A forensic interview is a neutral, fact-finding interaction conducted by a specially trained interviewer using a multi-disciplinary approach in response to allegations of alleged maltreatment. Children ages 2-17 come to JACY House when there has been a report that the child may have experienced some form of abuse or may have witnessed violence. The forensic interviewer allows the child to tell about the events in a one-on-one discussion with the multi-disciplinary team observing from an adjacent room. A forensic interview is not an interrogation, but a non-threatening and non-leading interview. The child is given the opportunity to describe events in his or her own words, in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate to the child.The goal of a forensic interview is to get a statement from a child. The information that the victims/witnesses give supports accurate and fair decision-making in the criminal justice and child welfare systems.
It is extremely difficult to sort out the facts of an alleged case of child abuse. Many lack physical evidence and eyewitness testimony. Errors in these cases can either leave a child unprotected and vulnerable to further abuse or subject innocent caregivers to criminal prosecution or loss of parental rights. (Olafson & Kenniston)
A forensic interview is performed by someone who is specially trained in interviewing and the many dynamics of child abuse. Using non-leading and age-appropriate questions, a forensic interview finds out the child's reality - in their own words - about what may have happened to them.