Before the Interview FAQ
1. How should I tell my child that he/she has to talk about this situation with a stranger- especially if they’ve already told me?
Tell your child that the will be meeting with someone who is a specialist (or you pick the word that will best relate to your child, i.e. interviewer, a helper, a special person, etc) in talking to children about very difficult things. Sometimes parents will designate this person as a friend of the Investigator who has opened the case (DFCS or Police) if the child has had a good connection with that investigator. Tell your child that even though they’ve told things to you (or someone else), it is important that the information is given to the child protection people.
2. When should I tell my child this will be taking place?
Give your child enough notice so that they don’t feel it’s a surprise to them, but also don’t give them too long a time period to worry about what they may have to do. Usually a day or two is enough time for them to feel comfortable with this appointment.
3. What if my child starts to ask me questions about what they have to say?
Tell them that you honestly don’t know exactly what will be asked but that you have every confidence in them that they’ll be honest and that the person will make them feel comfortable during the talk. Assure them that this person is a VERY child-friendly person whose job it is to talk to kids about difficult things. Tell them you want him/her to answer all the questions the best they can and to tell the truth.
Give the child permission to talk about what they have disclosed. Be general in what you tell the child (i.e. it’s okay to tell the interviewer that you told me X happened to you). Do not repeat the specific details of what they have disclosed and don’t ask them anymore questions- let the professionals do all the asking.
4. What if my child wants to know why they can’t just tell me and let me tell the other people?
Tell your child that you might not know what questions to ask and how to ask them. And also tell them that because you love them so much, sometimes parents ask the kinds of questions that are about feelings instead of about the facts, which is why this special interviewer needs to do the asking. Assure them that they are not in any trouble and in fact, are doing what every person should do- which is tell someone when someone else has done something wrong.
5. What if my child asks if i’ll be in the room with them?
Assure your child that while they are talking to the interviewer, that you’ll be in the next room talking to someone else about getting information on how to make sure they will stay safe.
6. What if my child says they don’t want to do this because they already told the story?
Tell your child that you understand their feelings of frustration, especially since it’s a difficult story to tell. But also tell them how brave they were for telling in the first place and how proud you are of their honesty and bravery. And because they were so brave, they’re going to be helping keep other children safe by telling the story to the people who are in charge of keeping all children safe.
7. Is there anything else I should know beforehand?
Please bring a support person with you. There will be initial paperwork that needs to be completed apart from your child, so someone will need to be here to watch them during that time.
Do not question your child about the details of the incident prior to the interview. Their minds are very sensitive and that could potentially taint their recollection of the events.
DO NOT say things that could lead your child to believe that you don’t believe them (i.e. ARE YOU SURE X happened, ARE YOU SURE it was so and so, etc).