OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin: Child Forensic Interviewing Best Practices

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has released a Bulletin entitled Child Forensic Interviewing:  Best Practices.  Although the Bulletin seems to be intended for forensic interviewers and victim advocacy centers, it contains information helpful to defenders  representing youth charged with sex offenses.  The Bulletin clearly lays out best practices for interviewing children in cases of alleged abuse, and provide defenders with questions to ask interviewers and advocates to determine credibility and consistency with accepted best practices.  Some examples of useful information include:

  • professionals should have formal initial and ongoing forensic interview training
  • forensic interviewers should be trained in multiple models and use a blend of models individualized to the needs of the child
  • the forensic interview should be developmentally sensitive and legally sound, conducted by a trained, neutral professional using research and practice informed techniques
  • though maturity increases a child’s vocabulary, terminology for sexual encounters, especially in forensic and legal matters, made be still be difficult to fully comprehend
  • effective forensic evaluations should occur soon after the alleged incident, and be recorded for legal scrutiny
  • materials that encourage play or fantasy are uniformly discouraged
  • interviewers should used open-ended questions appropriately to support the child’s experience in their own words
  • introducing information or posing options to youth is discouraged

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