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Techniques for Interviewing and Evidence Gathering (From Sexual Abuse of Young Children, P 62-100, 1986, by Kee MacFarlane, et al - See NCJ-104510)

NCJ Number
K MacFarlane; S Krebs
Date Published
34 pages
These guidelines on interviewing alleged victims of child sexual abuse are intended for professionals conducting evaluations either for clinical purposes or to gather evidence for law enforcement purposes.
Interviewers must translate children's language to others in the adult world and help children communicate their thoughts and feelings in ways adults can understand. The first step is to establish a common terminology, including the child's names for people and things and for body parts and sexual acts. Interviewers can help children overcome their fears of threats or consequences by addressing those fears directly and by using puppets and toys as communication aids. Interviewers must also understand children's common defense patterns, the fact that their thoughts and memories often come out in fragments, and the importance of timing. In gathering evidence, they should avoid asking leading questions. They should also use a wide range of terminology, help children overcome denial of what happened, and give children a variety of options for answering. Taking notes or having someone else take them will keep track of the information gathered. Interviewers must also remember to avoid overreacting to children's statements and to emphasize that the children are not to blame for the situation. For the full volume of which this is a chapter, see NCJ 104510.