What is the investigative process?

forensic-interview-child-drawingThe MDT consists of social workers, police officers, assistant district attorneys, advocates, nurses, and a child interview specialist. All of these professionals are sensitive to the difficult and confusing time that you and your child may be experiencing. The social worker must assess the safety and protection of your child. The interview specialist will ask your child questions and be part of the team discussion following the interview. A nurse will address any medical concerns, and a medical exam is available to every child. The police officer is from the location where the alleged incident occurred, and along with the assistant district attorney will determine if a crime has been committed and what other investigative steps must be taken. The victim advocate will be your link to the court system, if and when criminal action is taken. The MDT's overall goal is to complete the investigation in a child friendly, timely and professional manner.

What is a forensic interview?

A forensic interview is a single session, recorded interview designed to elicit a child's unique information when there are concerns of possible abuse or when the child has witnessed violence against another person. The forensic interview is conducted in a supportive and non-leading manner by a professional trained in the RATAC Forensic Interview model. Interviews are remotely observed by representatives of the agencies involved in the investigation (such as law enforcement, Arkansas State Police, and DHS).

What should my child know about the interview?

Children seem to be put at ease by knowing what to expect. It is helpful to inform your child that someone wishes to talk with him or her about what was reported. It is important to reassure your child and give him or her permission to talk freely; however it is equally important not to rehearse with your child or tell your child what to say.

Can I be present with my child during the interview?

It is important for the interviewer to talk with your child alone. If something abusive has happened to your child, it might initially be difficult for your child to talk about this in front of you. If your child discloses abusive incidents it might be upsetting to you. The team has the responsibility of observing, assessing and investigating the allegations. The team's focus must be on your child. Therefore you are not permitted to observe the interview.

What can I expect immediately following the interview?

At the end of the interview, the investigator will inform you about what will happen next. Unless told otherwise, you and your child are free to leave after talking with the investigators. The team will meet and develop a plan. An advocate or the investigator may contact you at a later date with more detailed information.

  • If your child wants to talk about the interview, listen. Do not ask questions. Do not be concerned if your child does not want to talk about the interview. Many children are "tired" of talking and just want to "get on with it."
  • Thank your child for talking and acknowledge his or her courage. Assure your child of your love and support, no matter what was disclosed or determined during the interview.
  • Avoid leading your child to think that the interview will end the process. Some cases continue into the legal system and require re-interviews or court testimony.

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