When a child is allegedly being abused, a forensic interview is his or her first step at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County.
What is a forensic interview?
The forensic interview is scheduled by either Department of Family & Protective Services Child Protective Services or a law enforcement agency after there have been allegations of physical or sexual abuse or if a child has been the witness to a crime.
The forensic interview is conducted by a trained professional utilizing developmentally appropriate methods to conduct the interview. Department of Family & Protective Services Child Protective Services and law enforcement agencies rely on this interview to gather pertinent family information, family history and to “fact find” regarding the allegations which have been made. The interview is recorded and conducted one-on-one with the child in a neutral, child friendly room and is monitored via closed circuit television by a law enforcement agency and Department of Family & Protective Services Child Protective Services in a different room. The DVD recording of the interview is not retained by Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County as it becomes the property of the Smith County District Attorney’s Office. The goal of the interview is to obtain information which is a fair and accurate representation of what may have occurred through non-leading and developmentally appropriate conversation.
Common questions about forensic interviews:
My child is coming to the Center for a forensic interview. What should I tell him or her?
Explain to your child that she is going to a place for children where she can talk to a person who can help her with what has happened. Do not tell your child that she is going to the Center to play or to meet a special friend. Be truthful, but be brief. Do not suggest to your child what she is to say and do not coach or rehearse your child ahead of time. It is also very important that you not offer any bribes or rewards to your child for telling. Encourage your child to be truthful and honest with the person to whom she is going to speak.
Can I watch my child’s interview?
Parents and caregivers are not allowed in the interview or observation rooms during the interview. A law enforcement agency and/or Department of Family & Protective Services Child Protective Services will discuss the interview with you after the interview and answer your questions.
How long does the interview last?
The length of the interview depends on the child and nature of the allegations and can range from ten minutes to two hours. The average length of time an interview takes is 40-60 minutes.