chapter  6
21 Pages

A Call for Field-Relevant Research about Child Forensic Interviewing for Child Protection

WithErna Olafson

Absent from the chapter on forensic child sexual abuse evaluations by Steve Herman in the Kuehnle and Connell volume that is the focus of this special issue is a sense of urgency about intervening to rescue children who are

being victimized by ongoing child sexual abuse or rape (Herman, 2009). Specificity is emphasized above sensitivity. It has been well established that physical evidence of child sexual abuse, even in cases of penetration, is rare (Frasier & Makoroff, 2006; Kellogg, Parra, & Menard, 1998). Other forms of hard corroborative evidence are available only in a minority of cases (Herman, 2009). Children’s statements are often all we have to determine the facts of a case and, when necessary, to take action to protect children from ongoing sexual abuse. In this special issue, Lyon and colleagues argue for the probative value of children’s statements. This paper supplements their work by proposing additional interview approaches. Because even Herman (2009) acknowledges that “hard” corroborative evidence is available in only a minority of cases, it is essential that those in child protection expand and improve child forensic interviewing so that children who have summoned the courage to disclose sexual abuse can be rescued rather than abandoned by the authorities to further sexual assault. This paper focuses primarily on child protection, so some of what is now known about the short-and longterm effects of sexual victimization on children and adult survivors will be briefly reviewed.