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Forensic Interviews

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A forensic interview is a structured conversation with a child intended to elicit detailed information about a possible event(s) that the child may have experienced or witnessed. The purposes of a forensic interview are:

1. To obtain information from a child that may be helpful in a criminal investigation;

2. To assess the safety of the child’s living arrangements;

3. To obtain information that will either corroborate or refute allegations or suspicions of abuse and neglect;

4. To assess the need for medical treatment and psychological care.

A forensic interview is conducted at the Child Advocacy Center when there has been a report to law enforcement or the Department of Health and Human Services that the child may have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse or when a child may have witnessed a violent crime.

An extended forensic interview is a multi-session structured interview. This model recognizes that some children may need more than one session to talk about allegations of abuse and increases the number of interview sessions with the child to as many as four. An extended forensic interview is generally considered for children with special developmental considerations or children who are particularly anxious or frightened.

Forensic interviews at the Child Advocacy Center are conducted by our forensic interview specialists or by one of the criminal investigators who have received advanced training on the forensic interviewing of child victims/witnesses. The forensic interviewers routinely participate in peer review to continually develop their skills and attend ongoing professional training.

Forensic interviews at the Child Advocacy Center are recorded on to a digital video disc (DVD) and provided to law enforcement.

The Child Advocacy Centers of South Dakota

CACSD is a network of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient – and put the needs of child victims first.

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What can you do?

Reporting abuse or neglect can protect a child and get help for a family – it may even save a child’s life. Learn more about reporting child abuse here.