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What themes trigger investigative interviewers to ask specific questions when interviewing children?
journal contributionposted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by Belinda GuadagnoBelinda Guadagno, Carolyn Hughes-Scholes, Martine Powell
Recent research has established that investigative interviewers have difficulty adhering to openended questions and instead ask specific questions when interviewing children about abuse. The current study aims to examine the themes in abuse-related interviews that trigger investigators to ask specific questions. Twenty police officers who were authorised to conduct investigative interviews with children completed a mock interview with an expert in child abuse interviewing who had been trained to play the role of an abused child. During the interview, the officers were stopped by a researcher and asked to reflect on why they had asked specific questions. Overall, the results revealed five areas where the officers deviated from open-ended questions. These related to: (1) the identity of the alleged offender; (2) the meaning of terms used by the child to describe genitals; (3) whether or not penetration occurred; (4) the offender's intent and motives; and (5) the timing of the abuse and where it occurred. Each of these themes is discussed, along with the implications for trainers and researchers in child abuse interviewing.