Forensic interview

Before the interview

Please write down and bring with you any concerns you have about your child. You know your child best and your information is important to us. Before your appointment at Sunflower House, please do not discuss the abuse allegations with your child. If your child wants to talk, permit him or her to discuss it. At this time, however, it is best if you do not bring it up yourself. Tell them that you honestly don’t know exactly what will be asked but that you have every confidence in them that they’ll be honest and that the person will make them feel comfortable during the talk. Assure them that this person is a child-friendly person whose job it is to talk to kids about difficult things. Tell them you want him/her to answer all the questions the best they can and to tell the truth.

Give the child permission to talk about what they have disclosed. Be general in what you tell the child (i.e. “It’s ok to tell the interviewer what you told me (or whomever they told) happened to you when you were …………). Assure them that they are not in any trouble.

Assure your child that you will be nearby during the interview. Let your child know it is alright to talk to the people at Sunflower House and that other kids come to Sunflower House to talk and have a medical exam also.

The interview

Sunflower House is a safe place where your child will meet with a social worker who has talked with many children and teenagers. Our “house” is a child-centered place with toys, books, play tables, an aquarium and TV room. Before the interview, the team members (DCF, law enforcement, forensic interviewer, family advocate and medical staff) meet briefly. The family advocate will then show you the interview room, talk about your child’s visit, and answer your questions about the process. This is a good time to tell the family advocate about your child’s feelings, emotional/mental development, language skills, and special needs. Then interviewer will then come to the lobby, introduce herself to you and your child and then take your child to the interview room to begin the interview. The length of the interview just depends on each child’s statements, needs, and specific circumstances.

During the interview, the interviewer will spend time getting to know your child and asking non-leading questions. This interview will be recorded on DVD in order to preserve your child’s statement. Only one person will interview your child. A social worker, a detective and our medical staff observe the interview from another room.

After your child’s interview begins, the Sunflower House Family Advocate meets with you.

After the interview is completed, the interviewer, family advocate, detective, DCF social worker, and medical staff then meet briefly. The detective and DCF social worker will then meet with you. They will tell you what they have learned and answer questions about what will happen next. Many times, they will need to ask you questions as well. Your child will remain in the lobby while you meet with the detective and social worker.

After the interview

Should I ask my child about his/her experience?

You can certainly ask about how things went but don’t press them for specifics. Asking things like what the room was like and if the interviewer was nice are perfectly comfortable questions.  It shows you’re interested in their experience but respect they may be uncomfortable about giving you too many details.

Should my child show signs of sadness or shame?

Most children feel relieved that they’ve been able to finally get their ‘secret’ out, so they may actually show signs of relief. They may just seem like their normal selves and want to play or do an activity that is fun. Some children may show feelings, such as sadness or fear about the circumstance.