Interviewing child victims of crime


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Framework and backgound information on how to interview child victims of crime for professionals helping children exposed to violence

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Interviewing child victims of crime

  1. 1. INTERVIEWING CHILD VICTIMS OF CRIME Wezet Botes 19 June 2013
  2. 2. VICTIM, VICTIMOLOGY, VICTI MIZATION Victim: Individuals who experience loss, injury, or hardship for any reason crime victim- definition experienced as a result of crime Victimology: “Scientific study of physical, emotional, and financial harm people suffer because of illegal activities.” Victimization: “Is an asymmetrical interpersonal relationship that is abusive, painful, destructive, parasitical, and unfair.” Child: A person under the age of 18 years
  3. 3. WHY INTERVIEW THE CHILD To be able to safeguard the child- effect a safety plan Determine what services are needed to support the child To determine the type and extent of the crime for prosecution, court and sentencing purposes Prevent the offender from reoffending
  4. 4. WHAT VIEWPOINT IS MOST USEFUL? Subjective Approach Issues are approached from standpoint of morality, ethics, philosophy, personalized reactions, and emotions- victimism Objective Approach Requires observer to be fair, openminded, evenhanded, dispassionate, neutral, and unbiased-victimology
  5. 5. MIND-SPACE FOR WORKING WITH CHILDREN The core concepts of interviewing children: The best interest of the child guides the intervention Creating a comfortable environment, Taking language development into account, Maintaining cultural awareness Be sensitive for developmental considerations
  6. 6. TALKING TO CHILDREN IS DIFFERENT Keen observers Cant express themselves the same way as adults Play rather than talking Play is preparation for life Children play to make sense of their world Children play to experiment Children play to process their own experiences Play is not a waste of time
  7. 7. REQUIREMENTS FOR PRACTITIONERS Interest in children Fun loving and able to operate on a child‟s level Previous counselling interviewing experience Willingness to learn and read Be willing to work within the boundaries- will also work with parents/ role players Receive supervision or is linked with an accountability structure.
  8. 8. EQUIPMENT REQUIRED Warm and open (smile) Safe and welcoming space Dress comfortably Basic kit = wax crayons, pencil, eraser blank paper, farm animals/ wild animals Expansive kit =Clay, crayons, paint –art media
  9. 9. APPROACHING THE CHILD Non-directive, direct approaches activate defence mechanisms Non threatening Non-judgemental, not the parent Non- prescriptive, be aware of own paradigms „Not knowing‟ inquisitive Limited and appropriate touch Accommodating, toilet brakes, food, tiredness Open and warm- respectful Engaging
  10. 10. FROM A CHILD‟S POINT OF VIEW Everyone even children interpret the world through their own experiences Children‟s experiences are limited They will draw talk and explain things in a way that make sense in their world Your job is to put yourself into the shoes of the child and see it from their view Be very sensitive to power positions and manipulation tactics
  11. 11. UNDERSTANDING THE CHILD‟S NARRATIVE  Children don‟t like to talk only, use different ways to communicate  What is the referral what are the facts and what id the child’s perspective?  What is the self report of the child?  What verbal/ non-verbal information that the child has given seems to be the dominant theme?  What does the family say?  Is the behaviour of the child in line with what the general picture is from the child‟s perspective and from the families' perspective
  12. 12. THE CHILD AS A CLIENT Child needs to know the parameters of the session Rules of the interview Why are they there, what will they do Address confidentiality, who gets to keep the drawings /session products Explain when you have to tell someone else Consent to give feedback to parents
  13. 13. DISCUSSION What do you think is important rules and limits when working with children? What accountability structures are available to you? How would you approach confidentiality with a child? How does interviewing a child differ from interviewing an adult? What skills /attitude should a interviewer have when working with children?
  14. 14. SPHERES OF THE CHILD‟S LIFE Impact of crime/trauma Impact of crime/trauma Impact of crime/trauma
  15. 15. TRAUMA Specific traumatic experiences have a direct impact on child's view of self, family and world Interviewer should be able to identifying and refer traumatised children to resources in community The child‟s general functioning and school performance are negatively impacted by trauma The ‘when’ and ‘how’ trauma should be addressed within a therapeutic environment Listen and take notes – refer don‟t
  16. 16. TECHNIQUE Trauma interview****** Directive: tell/ draw a picture of what happened to you Equipment: paper coloured paint/ crayons / pencils, age appropriate forensic media Engagement: tell me what happened to you from the beginning. Tell me all you could remember about x (senses). What did you think? What did you feel? What do you think feel about it now?
  17. 17. FORENSIC INTERVIEWING INTRODUCTION Dealing with the narrative of crime/abuse can be very daunting What is the need for a narrative in Court investigations? May be asked to give a report to the court in the criminal investigation The interviewer could be subpoenaed to testify about the disclosure of the child Disclosure of the child may be important to establish the charge sheet, building the prosecution‟s case, NB safety of the child
  18. 18. CONTEXT Children are more likely to give false negatives than false positives It takes tremendous courage of a child to give a narrative of events where they risk significant losses The reaction the child gets when reporting would determine if the chid will risk telling all that happened to them Stay objective but take any reports seriously Be supportive of the child‟s courage to tell
  19. 19. ROLE PLAYERS The child self- child participation in the process Parents parents always the parents! Primary care givers Police – reporting of crime, taking of statements, investigating, compiling a Court docket Forensic interviewer- getting the child‟s statements Social worker - Children‟s Court and family support Psychologist – therapy (play, family therapy)
  20. 20. CASE STUDY John (8) lives on the same property as Tom (12) in a ZoZo that his father and stepmom is renting from Tom‟s foster mother John is small for a 8 year old with possible alcohol syndrome he seems to be intellectually delayed Tom is in a special school and has reached puberty, he is physically strong Tom has been repeatedly raping John for the past 6 months and John has told his step mother about one incident after she saw blood in his underwear John and Tom are interviewed separately to determine what happened and what was the extent of the alleged rape John is significantly traumatized and Tom denies that he has ever hurt
  21. 21. PROCESS OF DISCLOSURE Is disclosure a single event or a process of disclosure? Research: 5% of disclosures are done in a single event 95% follows a process of gradual disclosure Follows 4 phases: denial, disclosure, recanting, confirmation Sorenson & Snow
  22. 22. 1 DISCLOSURE ? Which process did John follow to disclose Tentative Active Child test the waters May be accidental Full disclosure/ may be accidental spontaneous/graduation Partial disclosure “once” Specific incident is described with emotion Vague- child may not remember Child is empowered to give all the detail disclosure- maternal support Minimise incident to make it more acceptable Sensory information given May not seem convincing May disclose perpetrator as well
  23. 23. 2 DENIAL Reasons the child may deny that abuse took place: Child is scared of parents reaction Child is scared of the perpetrator Child may not know that what happened is abuse VO Grooming of the child was successful- normalised or threatened Child understand the risk of losses after disclosure i.e. income MS Over identification with the abuser- protect ? What are possible hypotheses for Tom‟s denial?
  24. 24. 3 RECANTING/ MINIMISING What: try to pull back from disclosure Reaction and consequences of disclosure were unfavourable- VO Fear of court proceedings and police involvement Threats of the perpetrator Insufficient support from family especially mother Helga Child abuse accommodation syndrome USA girl ? Tom admitted to hitting but not to rape - why how willyou manage this?
  25. 25. 4 CONFIRMATION Child confirms abuse when they experience safety and secure attachment i.e. Place of Safety KZN Active disclosure and child is also more capable (i.e. older) to testify/language capacity Perpetrator is no longer an active threat Through therapy and support the child can be helped. John freely spoke about the abuse once he was in a place of Safety? What differences wold there be in the interview if a child is still in danger
  26. 26. DEVELOPMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS Pre-schoolers 3-7 Cues /spontaneous/ behavioural Younger than 3 language development evidence and medical examination Not mastered telling time/ days of the week and words describing time Cant count number of incidents Trouble with sequencing Use short simple questions Concrete words and use words familiar to the child (rape)
  27. 27. DEVELOPMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS Middle childhood 7-12yrs Under 10 trouble with chronology of events Ask child to link day of crime to other events e.g. I played netball/ seasons day/night More detail of number of times especially if asked to draw different incidents More context and detail in disclosures with better grasp and use of language
  28. 28. DEVELOPMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS Teenagers: Abstract thinking starts to develop Black/white thinking still prevalent Law deals with teenagers differently – expectations are higer Are they more/less likely to tell the truth? Does grooming play a bigger/smaller role in teenage years? What is the ages of consent for teens?
  29. 29. PITFALLS Giving detail of disclosure to parents too early in process Don‟t know who the perpetrator is- stay objective and questioning suspicious Retelling over and over again can contaminate information – over assessment Acting before sufficient information is obtained Not considering the developmental needs of child
  30. 30. THE FREE NARRATIVE Previously believed that abuse can only be confirmed if the chid gives the same information using various techniques i.e. anatomically correct dolls and drawings and the ideal house Techniques have undergone a lot of criticism and current consensus is to use them only after verbal disclosure Goal: for the interviewer to get enough information to 1) effect a safety plan 2) gather information for court Take process into consideration- child may need a few interviews after the first one to get a full disclosure
  31. 31. THE INTRODUCTION Orientate the child what you are going to do Inform of interviewer‟s job description and role Does the child differentiate between the truth and a lie? General conversation about day to day events Make child comfortable with interview Preliminary information on child‟s verbal skills, cognitive maturity Convey goal of interview is for child to talk See if child can enter into a narrative Don’t make promises
  32. 32. ESTABLISHING GROUND RULES Tell real things that really happened No guessing or make believe Don‟t understand what I mean- ask me Take your time in telling what happened Correct me if I‟m wrong I‟ll ask a lot of questions – doesn‟t mean I think that your answer was wrong I may not understand so well and ask you to tell me more about what happened Create boundaries for the interview Create a safe environment for the child to tell you what happened
  33. 33. INTRODUCING THE TOPIC Least suggestive prompt: “Now that I know you better we can talk about some thing else. Do you know why you are here today?” “I understand that there are some problems in your family- tell me about them.” Avoid words such as bad, hurt, abuse or other interpretive words Shift the topic of conversation to the alleged incident/s Invitation to talk about the allegations No direct questions- RS show that a direct question is likely to get a positive answer irrespective of what happened
  34. 34. FREE NARRATIVE After the topic is introduced the interviewer ask an open ended question- narrative description of event Open ended questions “Tell me everything you can about that.” “Tell me from the very beginning to the end.” Goal: get most detailed description of what happened. No leading questions. Age appropriate Q‟s No double negatives. No double barrel Q‟s Keep it short & simple
  35. 35. QUESTIONING AND CLARIFICATION After finishing the free narrative is established follow up with more focussed questions Determine if it was a single or multiple events Description of the crime scene Clarification of information Was there multiple perpetrators? Keep the when what where who detail in mind and add focussed questions later on to gather the needed information
  36. 36. CLOSURE “Is there some thing else you want to talk about?” Exit the abuse focussed narrative if sufficient description of event is obtained or if child does not give any more information Thank the child and if asked discuss the road ahead Talk about a neutral topic to ease child‟s tension Restore equilibrium to child. Reconnect to neutral events.
  37. 37. SUMMERY Be at ease in the interview Take it slowly The best interest of the child is paramount Be the guardian of the child's trust Keep very good notes of everything said Work in a team- try not to make decisions on your own Look after yourself