A Guide to Interviewing Children: Essential Skills for Counsellors, Police, Lawyers and Social Workers

A Guide to Interviewing Children: Essential Skills for Counsellors, Police, Lawyers and Social Workers

A Guide to Interviewing Children: Essential Skills for Counsellors, Police, Lawyers and Social Workers

A Guide to Interviewing Children: Essential Skills for Counsellors, Police, Lawyers and Social Workers

Excerpt

Interviewing is about gaining an understanding of another person. The interviewer asks questions to better appreciate the person she is interviewing. To climb into that person's skin. It takes immense skill to climb completely into another's skin. And it takes immense courage to invite an interviewer in. The foundation of the skill, and the basis of the courage, is trust. Trust that what is being said will also be accepted. Not judged. Not applauded. Just accepted.

For a young child, being interviewed requires great courage. She is likely to have no idea what to expect in the process, or what the possible outcomes may be. Despite this, she still seeks acceptance. That she will be listened to. That she will be believed.

To interview a young child takes great knowledge and skill: knowledge of the language barriers that must be overcome; knowledge of what information needs to be obtained and the skills needed to access that information; and knowledge that although the interviewer may want to help, it may not always be possible. This book cannot give the interviewer the skills needed to interview a child, only practise can do that. However, it does aim to give the interviewer the knowledge to inform that practise.

Primarily, this book was written to help those professionals who are mandated to interview a child about sexual abuse. A police officer or social worker or psychologist or psychiatrist may want to assess a child regarding allegations of abuse. A lawyer or judge may want to assess a child's evidence for a trial. The information and techniques outlined here are particularly useful for people in those professions. While the book outlines the interviewing techniques, it does not outline all the legislative requirements regarding the interviewing of a child about sexual abuse. Such requirements (and there are usually a great deal of them) are local to any jurisdiction and country. Every interviewer should be aware of what the local legal requirements are before conducting such an interview with a child.

Child abuse, or other matters concerning a child, may also become an issue for those in professions that normally work with children (e.g. schoolteachers). Further, such professionals may be legally required to report child abuse and may therefore need to discuss such issues with a child—a medic may want to understand how a child has sustained various injuries, or a schoolteacher or counsellor may want to know about bullying or other antisocial behaviour. This book is designed to help them also. While the purpose and goals of these various professions may be very different, the process of gaining accurate information from a child is the same.

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