Setting the Ground Rules: Use and Practice of Ground Rules in Child Forensic Interviews

Forthcoming, Child Maltreatment

20 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2020

See all articles by Melanie Fessinger

Melanie Fessinger

City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Kelly McWilliams

City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Faizun Bakth

City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Date Written: February 19, 2020

Abstract

Most child forensic interviewing protocols recommend that interviewers administer a series of ground rules to emphasize concepts that are important to accurately answering interview questions. Limited research has examined whether interviewers follow ground rules recommendations in real-world forensic interviews. In this study, we examined how often highly trained interviewers presented and practiced each of the recommended ground rules. We also examined whether children accurately responded to practice questions. We coded transcripts from 241 forensic interviews of 4- to 12-year-old children conducted by interviewers in the United States who were largely trained using the Ten Step Investigative Interview (Lyon, 2014). Results demonstrated that interviewers routinely presented and practiced the ground rules, but this significantly varied by children’s age. Additionally, children often accurately responded to practice questions, but younger children were less accurate than older children. Taken together, results highlight that interviewers may deviate from ground rules recommendations based on the characteristics of the child which has implications for both future research and practice.

Suggested Citation

Fessinger, Melanie and McWilliams, Kelly and Bakth, Faizun and Lyon, Thomas D., Setting the Ground Rules: Use and Practice of Ground Rules in Child Forensic Interviews (February 19, 2020). Forthcoming, Child Maltreatment, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3541222

Melanie Fessinger (Contact Author)

City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice ( email )

524 W 59th St
New York, NY 10019
United States

Kelly McWilliams

City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice ( email )

524 W 59th St
New York, NY 10019
United States

Faizun Bakth

City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice ( email )

524 W 59th St
New York, NY 10019
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)

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