Child Forensic Interviewing is certainly not a new topic, but one that causes a lot of stress. The hardest job for criminal investigators are dealing with the most vulnerable in society: the very young and the very old. Investigators must have extra patience when conducting interviews, especially with children. There are many pitfalls that investigators should be aware. One of those issues is that a child can often give an answer that he / she thinks the investigator wants to hear.
Questions that investigators look to children victims run the gamut. They may include what exactly happened to the child, injuries sustained, length of time of the abuse, assess the need for psychological care, immediate medical care and information that can aid in the prosecution of the the perpetrator(s). Investigators must ensure that they build prosecutable cases and this new guide will help them do it. Not only should investigators read the new guide, but department administrators should explore how its techniques can be used in formal and informal training programs for every officer.
We often forget to include patrol officers in any training that involves investigations. Remember, today’s patrol officers will become tomorrow’s investigators. Another reason to include patrol officers is that they are the first to respond. The information they receive is vital to the investigation as much as securing the crime scene.
The U.S. Department of Justice has just released the updated guide for Child Forensic Interviewing: Best Practices. Interviewing crime victims is tough enough, but that is compounded when it is a child. Every investigator should read this guide since they don’t know when they will encounter a case involving a child. So many things can go wrong when dealing with children as victims and it is our job to keep them safe. Don’t let a guilty person walk away due to an investigative error.
Access the Guide