What is a Forensic Interview?
A Forensic Interview is a legally justifiable, fact-finding interview with a child conducted by a specially trained professional at the request of law enforcement or Child Protective Services. Forensic Interviews are designed to provide children the opportunity to disclose abuse to a neutral party in a child-friendly setting. Forensic interviewers are specially trained in the areas of child development, linguistics, civil and criminal offenses, child protection concerns, memory, suggestibility and disclosure. Although the video recording itself is not typically admissible in court due to hearsay rules, the interview is utilized by the multi-disciplinary team as part of the investigation, and must meet certain legal criteria.
What is the purpose of the interview?
Prior to the advent of Children’s Advocacy Centers, children had to retell the details of their
nightmare over and over to various investigative agencies, compounding the initial
trauma. The purpose of a forensic interview is to minimize the number of times children must tell their stories. Forensic interviewers provide an opportunity for children to disclose abuse. If abuse is disclosed, the interview is used to gather details about their victimization. Child Protective Services and law enforcement observe the interviews to assist them in their investigations.
Why are interviews recorded?
The forensic interview is recorded in order to minimize the number of times a victim must detail their trauma. The recording also increases the accuracy of information provided to professionals investigating the case, particularly law enforcement.
All interviews are viewed in real time by CPS caseworkers and law enforcement officers to increase the collaboration and efficiency of the investigation.