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Interviewing Child Victims of Sexual Abuse

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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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See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Cases of domestic violence and child abuse

This is for PowerPoint presentation. But I would be happy having this on a regular paper as well. Thank you in advance!

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The prosecutor is getting feedback from local law enforcement explaining that they are discouraged about making arrests in cases of domestic violence and child abuse. They claim that they have been either not making arrests in domestic violence situations or arresting both parties when they go out on a call. It seems that abused women often go back to the abusers, and children who get removed from the homes where they have been abused often return after removal. These occurrences have been especially demoralizing to law enforcement.

One of your jobs in working as a victim witness assistant is to help educate law enforcement on the nature and behaviors involved in domestic violence and child abuse. The prosecutor's office has decided that you should present each of these topics for the next training session:

Topic 1 - Domestic violence: Your goal is to educate law enforcement to use best practices in the investigation of domestic abuse cases. Include the following topics:

--How to approach a domestic violence situation when responding to an emergency call

---When the parties should be separated
---How to interview parties
---What information needs to be in the report and why
---How best to help a victim
---What laws protect victims, including the use of protection orders
---Why victims return to abusers
---Length of time it may take to stay away from their abusers

--Arrests

---The legal standard needed to make an arrest in a domestic violence case
---What evidence should be collected at the arrest
---Are dual arrests effective law enforcement?
---How to assist domestic violence victims
---Reluctant victims
---Help for victims

Topic 2 - Child Abuse: Your goal will be to educate law enforcement about the dynamics of abuse and neglect cases. Include the following topics:

--Signs of child abuse and categories (physical, sexual, emotional)
--Difference between abuse and neglect
--Legal description of neglect
--Use of guardian ad litems
--The legal standards that must be met in removal from the home
--Termination of parental rights
--Requirements of Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
--Role of court-appointed special advocates (CASA) in child abuse and neglect cases
--Role of social services in abuse and neglect cases

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