Inside the ‘Truth Room’
The forensic interview is conducted by a trained forensic interviewer in a child-friendly setting. Interviews are conducted in a neutral, legally sound style, and they are coordinated to avoid questioning the child over and over. The interview is personalized to meet each child’s developmental age and cognitive, social and emotional abilities.
The interview takes place in a safe space known as the “Truth Room.” The child is in the room with just one interviewer, but other team members observe from a nearby observation room. The interview is recorded for use in any necessary court hearings, minimizing the number of times your child will have to repeat the story.
Kids’ HOPE Center works with community partners using a shared investigation approach. The benefits of this model result in:
• Reducing the number of times a child is interviewed
• Minimizing the number of people involved in the case
• Enhancing the quality of evidence
• Using resources more efficiently
Minimizing conflicts among agencies
At the onset of an investigation, an initial field interview is necessary to verify that a child is healthy and safe, as well as to determine whether a criminal investigation is needed. This is the time when any other victims or witnesses may be identified. Findings from the initial field interview often indicate the need for an in-depth forensic interview at the Kids’ HOPE Center. The goal is to let your child tell the story from start to finish just one time, in a safe space with trained forensic specialists.
Here are answers to common questions about forensic interviews:
Why will my child be interviewed alone?
Children are interviewed alone because they are less open when parents or caregivers are present. Children sometimes will minimize or deny victimization as a way to protect their parents or other loved ones.
Why can’t the interview take place at home?
Children should be interviewed in a controlled, neutral environment that conveys a sense of security and privacy. It needs to be equipped to record the interview to be used as evidence.
Why does a forensic interviewer have to question my child?
Forensic interviewers are familiar with child development and children’s linguistic abilities. They are trained to elicit information from children in a neutral, non-leading way, so that the child’s testimony will hold up in court.
Why do others have to observe my child’s interview?
Observers, such as police officers, child welfare officials, doctors and prosecutors, help ensure the needed information is gathered in one interview, sparing the child from repeated questioning. Observers also may intervene if the child discloses any immediate health or safety threat.
Why is the interview recorded?
Audio-video recordings are standard practice throughout the nation. These recordings capture the affect and testimony of the child, and they help minimize the number of times a child needs to restate the story and relive the trauma.