When Interviewing Children: A Review and Update

In J. Conte & B. Klika, eds., APSAC Handbook on Child Maltreatment, 4th ed. (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 2018) pp. 310-329

USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS17-2

USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 17-2

32 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2017 Last revised: 10 Nov 2017

See all articles by Karen Saywitz

Karen Saywitz

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Gail S. Goodman

University of California, Davis

Date Written: November 9, 2017

Abstract

In this chapter, we highlight principles for interviewing children based on the best available science, understanding that such principles keep changing as new evidence accumulates and that gaps exist in the knowledge base where guidance is limited. Interviewers will need to stay abreast of new developments. First, we briefly describe the data base from which the tools derive — studies conducted in the laboratory and in the field. Then we discuss evidence-based interview tools and features of the interview about which there is sufficient empirical evidence and consensus to derive “toolboxes.” We discuss interview structure, setting, children’s reluctance and suggestibility, rapport development, narrative practice, introducing the topic of abuse, language and phrasing of questions, instructions to children, and evidence-based strategies for eliciting details. We highlight the need for interviewers to have a toolbox of techniques at the ready from which they can select the most appropriate tools for a particular child, context, or jurisdiction — techniques that they can justify based on the best available science.

Suggested Citation

Saywitz, Karen and Lyon, Thomas D. and Goodman, Gail S., When Interviewing Children: A Review and Update (November 9, 2017). In J. Conte & B. Klika, eds., APSAC Handbook on Child Maltreatment, 4th ed. (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 2018) pp. 310-329; USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS17-2; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 17-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2893157

Karen Saywitz (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-0142 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

Gail S. Goodman

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Apt 153
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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