This article offers factors to consider when forensic interviewers and child abuse multidisciplinary team (MDT) members are preparing the forensic interview and MDT process for children with disabilities. The article goes in depth on the CDC’s Disability and Health sector’s definitions of disabilities and risk factors for abuse, in addition to best practices for conducting interviews.
Nearly 700,000 children experience abuse, maltreatment, or neglect each year, and the most reported forms are physical neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Because child abuse is vastly underreported, however, these figures do not entirely reflect the scope of the issue. Of the children who experience child abuse and maltreatment, children with disabilities are affected at staggering rates despite often being underrepresented in our child protection and judicial systems. Children with disabilities are at least three times more likely to be abused or neglected than their peers without disabilities, and they are more likely to be seriously injured or harmed by maltreatment. When an experience of child maltreatment or abuse is witnessed, when evidentiary material is made known to authorities, or when a child makes an outcry, a forensic interview will ensue. A forensic interview is a neutral, information-gathering interaction conducted by a specially trained interviewer using a multidisciplinary approach in response to allegations of maltreatment.
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