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Interviewing Child Victims of Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is, unfortunately, a pervasive crime, and one that can often be difficult to prosecute. Discuss some difficulties in interviewing child victims of sexual abuse, and what psychologists can do to aid in these investigations. Also discuss some of the errors investigators make when interviewing children.

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Hi,

Interesting topic! Let's take a closer look. I also attached the supporting article, from which this response is drawn. It is an exceptionally informative article compiling an extensive review of the research that supports each question.

1. Child sexual abuse is, unfortunately, a pervasive crime, and one that can often be difficult to prosecute. Discuss some difficulties in interviewing child victims of sexual abuse, and what psychologists can do to aid in these investigations.

Difficulties in Interviewing Child Victims of Sexual Abuse

(a) Language differences between adult and child.
(b) Younger children cannot talk, so it is difficult to interview.
(c) Suggestibility of children is a problem, especially for the 'untrained' interviewer.
(d) Short attention span e.g., the longer the interview, the less accurate are the child's reported. The more the child wants to end the interview, the more likely the child makes up false statements
(e) Feel threatened and intimidated by high status of interviewer and are more likely to be influenced by what the interviewer says, and agree even if it is not accurate.

The psychologist can work with the investigator and train, if necessary, the educator in the types of errors to avoid, and also what research suggests is the best way to obtain accurate information from a child. Sometimes, the psychologist is also working with the child and the family.

2. Also discuss some of the errors investigators make when interviewing children.

The attached article presented a number of errors that investigator make, and found that when present in interviews or interactions with young children, may greatly compromise the accuracy of their reports. These factors include:

· Biased beliefs of the interviewer
· Use of repeated questions
· Repetition of misleading information,
· Use of rewards, bribes, and threats.
· Children's reports are at risk for being tainted if an intimidating adult, such as a police office, interviews them.
· Using peer pressure
· Using anatomically detailed dolls
· Stereotype induction
· Some very recent evidence indicates that merely asking children to repeatedly think about whether an event occurred may have a profound negative effect on their subsequent memories. (from attached article)

Let's discuss each of these briefly based on the findings in the attached article.

(1) Interviewer Bias

The authors in the ...

Solution Summary

Discussion of some difficulties in interviewing child victims of sexual abuse, and what forensic psychologists can do to aid in these investigations. Errors that investigators make when interviewing children are also explored. Supplemented with one relevant article on the suggestibility of children.

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