Child Forensic Interviewing: Best Practices

Child Forensic Interviewing: Best Practices
Posted 3/2/2020

This bulletin consolidates the current knowledge of professionals from several major forensic interview training programs on best practices for interviewing children in cases of alleged abuse. The authors discuss the purpose of the child forensic interview, provide historical context, review overall considerations, and outline each stage of the interview in more detail. Among the topics that the authors discuss are the following:

  • No two children will relate their experiences in the same way or with the same level of detail and clarity. Individual characteristics, interviewer behavior, family relationships, community influences, and cultural and societal attitudes determine whether, when, and how they disclose abuse.
  • The literature clearly explains the dangers of repeated questioning and duplicative interviews; however, some children require more time to become comfortable with the process and the interviewer.
  • Encouraging children to give detailed responses early in the interview enhances their responses later on.
  • Forensic interviewers should use open-ended questions and should allow for silence or hesitation without moving to more focused prompts too quickly. Although such questions may encourage greater detail, they may also elicit potentially erroneous responses if the child feels compelled to reach beyond his or her stored memory.