ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

Recent research documents the comorbidity of child maltreatment and domestic violence as well as the detrimental impact of exposure to domestic violence on children. Domestic violence and child interviewing also share the distinction of being contested social issues. This article argues that methods employed in interviewing children about child maltreatment can be applied to interviewing children about exposure to domestic violence. The article describes how cognitive interviewing, narrative elaboration, and event segmentation can be employed when talking to children about domestic violence. In addition, the article discusses how focused questions related to child maltreatment and child endangerment can be used to elicit information from children about domestic violence.
10.1177/0886260502250839ARTICLEJOURNAL OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE / April 2003Faller / RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN CHILD INTERVIEWING
Research and Practice
in Child Interviewing
Implications for Children Exposed
to Domestic Violence
KATHLEEN COULBORN FALLER
University of Michigan School of Social Work
Recent research documents the comorbidity of child maltreatment and domestic vio
-
lence as well as the detrimental impact of exposure to domestic violence on children.
Domestic violence and child interviewing also share the distinction of being con
-
tested social issues. This article argues that methods employed in interviewing chil
-
dren about child maltreatment can be applied to interviewing children about expo
-
sure to domestic violence. The article describes how cognitive interviewing,
narrative elaboration, and event segmentation can be employed when talking to chil-
dren about domestic violence. In addition, the article discusses how focused ques-
tions related to child maltreatment and child endangerment can be used to elicit
information from children about domestic violence.
Keywords: domestic violence; child interviewing; children exposed to domestic
violence
Child abuse and neglect must be reported by professionals who work with
children and must be investigated by child welfare personnel. At the present
time, however, children witnessing and being affected by domestic violence
do not fall within the child protection mandate.
In this article, I will highlight the high comorbidity of domestic violence
and child maltreatment, describe briefly the detrimental impact of domestic
violence on children, and argue that an appropriate area of inquiry for profes
-
sionals who are assessing children and their problems is children’s exposure
to domestic violence. Because domestic violence, like child sexual abuse, is a
contested issue, I will recommend applying research and practice knowledge
that guides interviewing children about possible sexual abuse to the issue of
domestic violence.
377
JOURNAL OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE, Vol. 18 No. 4, April 2003 377-389
DOI: 10.1177/0886260502250839
© 2003 Sage Publications
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
COMORBIDITY
Research has demonstrated the co-occurrence of domestic violence and
child maltreatment. For example, incidence research in the domestic vio
-
lence domain informs us that 50% of batterers also abuse children. In addi
-
tion, 25% of victims of domestic violence abuse their children (Edelson,
1999b; Saunders, 1994; Straus, 1983). High percentages of dual violence
families are also found in domestic violence community-based research sam
-
ples, including high rates of child neglect (Beeman, Hagemeister, & Edelson,
2001).
Similarly, child maltreatment researchers find rates of domestic violence
ranging from 22% (Peddle & Wang, 2001) to 85% (English, 1998). Child
welfare research and practice indicate that variations in proportions of cases
identified with domestic abuse problems are, in large part, a consequence of
the level of family involvement in the child welfare system (English, 1998;
Peddle & Wang, 2001). This finding suggests two phenomena. First, the lon-
ger the family is involved in the child welfare system, the more likely domes-
tic violence will be identified as a family problem. Second, situations of
greater severity, such as those involving the comorbidity of domestic vio-
lence and child maltreatment, remain longer in the child welfare system.
THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN
Practitioners and researchers have described the ways in which children
experience domestic violence. These include actually witnessing domestic
abuse, hearing but not seeing the violence, being forced to watch the abuse,
being caught in the cross fire of violence between parents and thereby
injured, being held hostage by the batterer, being used as a weapon in an
attack, and being manipulated by the assailant (Edelson, 1999a; Ganley &
Schechter, 1996). Manipulations include the assailant using the child as a go-
between, interrogating the child, using the child as a spy, and making the
child ask the mother to reconcile (Ganley & Schechter, 1996).
Because child maltreatment often is present with domestic violence, it is
difficult to determine the specific impact of exposure to domestic violence on
children (Edelson, 1999a). Nevertheless, approximately half of children who
are exposed to domestic violence have emotional and behavioral problems
(Graham-Bermann, 2001). These include lower social competence (Edelson,
1999a), deficits in cognitive functioning (Rossman, 1998), higher probability
of using and justifying violence in conflict resolution (Carlson, 1991; Jaffe,
378 JOURNAL OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE / April 2003
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Wilson, & Wolfe, 1986), higher levels of anxiety, evidence of post-traumatic
stress disorder, temperament problems (Maker, Kemmelmeier, & Peterson,
1998), and depression (Silvern et al., 1995).
There is also evidence that being exposed to domestic violence during
childhood has effects on adult functioning. These include expectations of
violence in adult intimate relationships (Widom, 1989) and violent and crim
-
inal behavior as adults (Rivera & Widom, 1990; Widom, 1989). Both the
immediate and delayed effects of domestic violence on children support the
need for its detection.
Indeed, there is an emerging appreciation of the high comorbidity, the
impact of domestic violence on children, and the competing needs of mothers
and children caught in domestic violence situations among both advocates
for battered women and child welfare professionals (U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, 1998). And professionals investigating child
maltreatment are beginning to also assess for child-endangering behaviors.
For example, forensic interviewers at the Center for Child Protection, in the
course of gathering information from children about sexual abuse, also ask
about other parental behaviors, including substance abuse and domestic vio-
lence (Davies et al., 1996).
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE FROM RESEARCH AND
PRACTICE ON CHILD INTERVIEWING TO CHILDREN
IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SITUATIONS
The practice of interviewing children about possible maltreatment devel-
oped, by default, as a method to determine the probability of sexual abuse.
Professionals resorted to interviewing the child because modes of investiga-
tion employed in physical abuse and neglect did not resolve reports of sexual
abuse. More specifically, because sexual abuse usually leaves no physical
signs, medical examinations, other investigations into the child’s physical
condition, and investigations of the child’s environment—the investigative
methods used routinely in other types of maltreatment—do not normally
yield confirmatory or disconfirmatory evidence about sexual abuse.
Child interview strategies that may elicit information about sexual abuse
not only may be informative in other types of child maltreatment but also may
yield useful data when children are otherwise endangered, including by
being witnesses or exposed to domestic violence. Thus, research and practice
related to interview techniques with children having a history of possible sex
-
ual abuse may inform inquiry into experiences of observing and being trau
-
Faller / RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN CHILD INTERVIEWING 379
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
matized by domestic violence. Moreover, children may be more candid than
the adults in their household when asked about domestic violence. Such
direct assessment also will allow child protection workers, law enforcement,
and other professionals working with children to gather information about
the impact of domestic violence on children.
There are two general categories of research that inform child interview
-
ing: analogue studies (e.g., Bruck, Ceci, Francoeur, & Renick, 1995; Carter,
Bottoms, & Levine, 1995; Ceci & Bruck, 1993; Ceci, Huffman, Smith, &
Loftus, 1994; Ceci, Loftus, Leichtman, & Bruck, 1994; Clarke-Stewart,
Thompson, & Lapore, 1989; Goodman, Hirschman, Hepps, & Rudy, 1991;
Goodman, Wilson, Hazan, & Reed, 1989; Leichtman & Ceci, 1995; Loftus &
Davies, 1984; Myers, Saywitz, & Goodman, 1996; Peterson, & Biggs, 1997;
Zaragoza, 1991) and studies of actual cases of abuse (e.g., Bradley & Wood,
1996; Cantlon, Payne, & Erbaugh, 1996; Carnes, Nelson-Gardell, & Wilson,
2000; DeVoe & Faller, 1999; Eisen, Goodman, Davis, & Qin, 1999; Eisen,
Goodman, Qin, & Davis, 1998; Keary & Fitzpatrick, 1994; Lawson &
Chaffin, 1992; Sas & Cunningham, 1995; Sorenson & Snow, 1991; Sternberg
et al., 1997). Analogue studies are much more numerous than studies of
actual cases. Both types of research have their strengths and limitations.
Because of the limitations of both the analogue and the real world research,
the guidance being suggested for individuals interviewing children about
domestic violence will draw on practice (e.g., Faller, 1993, 1996) as well as
research.
In addition, many approaches used in interviewing children about possi-
ble abuse emphasize the danger of false positives, whereas empirical findings
for real world research, analogue studies, and adults reporting sexual abuse
during childhood indicate a greater problem is false negatives (Aman &
Goodman, 1990; Faller, 1988; Goodman & Clarke-Stewart, 1991; Lawson &
Chaffin, 1992; Russell, 1986; Sorenson & Snow, 1991). Thus, methods that
will be recommended will take into account the relative risk of false negatives
versus positives.
Three interview strategies that can be productively applied to inquiry
about domestic violence will be discussed. Following that discussion, spe
-
cific questioning strategies will be suggested.
INTERVIEW STRATEGIES
The interview strategies to be proposed assume an event has taken place
and the child is being asked to describe it. Three strategies are being recom
-
mended: cognitive interviewing, narrative elaboration, and segmentation.
380 JOURNAL OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE / April 2003
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
The cognitive interview is an approach to data gathering originally
employed with adult witnesses to crimes and then applied in analogue studies
with children. Presently, its use is being advised in actual cases of child mal
-
treatment (Carnes et al., 2000; Saywitz & Geiselman, 1998; Yuille, 2002).
Three components of the cognitive interview have considerable potential
when children have witnessed domestic violence. The core component of the
cognitive interview is context reconstruction. Although some professionals
advise instruction to the child to “make a picture in your head” of the place
where the event occurred (Saywitz & Geiselman, 1998), for children, actu
-
ally drawing the place may be a superior approach (Faller, 1996). Not only
may children be more accomplished at drawing than at talking about a place,
but also an actual picture helps the interviewer spatially locate the events the
child is describing. These drawings also may be useful to interviewers
because they provide cues for further inquiry.
Once the child has the context in mind or on paper, the child is instructed to
tell everything he or she can remember from the beginning to the middle to
the end, reporting every detail, even those that seem unimportant. The child
can also be asked to telephone and report additional details, should they come
to mind later on.
A third component of the cognitive interview that is considered less useful
in interviews about child maltreatment is asking the child to take another’s
perspective and report the event a second time from that person’s perspective.
Concerns about the use of this technique with children are two: (a) The child
may not have the capacity to take another’s perspective, and (b) this strategy
may encourage guessing or fantasy. However, if a child is asked to report
domestic violence, which is an event the child witnessed, it might be very
appropriate and informative to ask the child to recount the event from the
domestic violence victim’s perspective.
A second interview strategy that may be helpful with children who have
been witnesses to domestic violence is narrative elaboration (Saywitz &
Geiselman, 1998; Saywitz, Nathanson, Snyder, & Lamphear, 1993). In nar
-
rative elaboration, children, age 6 through 11, are trained to use cue cards
(simple pictures to represent participants, actions/affective states, and resolu
-
tions), which serve as triggers for the child so he or she is sure to include these
aspects of the event. Cue cards might be very appropriate in cases where chil
-
dren have been exposed to domestic violence. The action card in this series is
a baseball breaking a window. It might be appropriate where there are con
-
cerns about domestic violence to have a cue card with people arguing.
A third strategy that might be useful in situations of domestic violence
comes from the work of Lamb and Sternberg (1999). They have developed
techniques that encourage children to provide a free narrative about sexual
Faller / RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN CHILD INTERVIEWING 381
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
abuse. To gather additional detail after the child has exhausted initial recol
-
lection of an event, they have developed a technique called segmentation. The
interviewer asks the child to tell everything they can recall about a particular
segment of the event, for example, “before your mother went into the living
room” or “after your little brother went to bed. Because there is often a lot of
activity in situations of domestic violence, segmentation might be very help
-
ful in assisting the child in providing details about the entire series of events
related to the violence. In addition, focusing on a particular period of time
may serve to decrease the child’s level of anxiety about the event as a whole.
QUESTIONING TECHNIQUES
A variety of types of questions are recommended when inquiring about
abuse (Bourg et al., 1999; Faller, 1999, 2000; Yuille, 2002). Among the most
preferred types of questions for forensic interviews are general questions—
open-ended questions that do not assume an event or experience, such as
“How are you doing today?”—and inquiry into the topic of concern—open-
ended questions that assume there may have been an event or experience, for
example, “Do you know why you came to talk to me today?” Because chil-
dren are not usually asked in child welfare or mental health agencies to pro-
vide information about domestic violence, these types of questions may not
elicit information about experiences with domestic violence.
Focused inquiry is probably needed. Focused questions, “questions that
focus the child on a particular topic, place, or person, but refrain from provid-
ing information about the subject” (Myers, Goodman, & Saywitz, 1996,
p. 13), can be quite open ended. One type of focused question inquires about
people in the child’s life. These may be the questions of choice when there are
concerns about domestic violence. The interviewer asks a series of parallel
questions about important people in the child’s life, for example, siblings,
mother, and father. These questions begin with a broad focus and become
narrower. When affirmative responses are obtained, such as “My dad is
mean, the interviewer should usually follow with invitational questions,
open-ended questions that invite the child to elaborate, for example, “Tell me
all about that” or “Tell me how he is mean. In addition, interviewers can
employ narrative cues, interviewer utterances that encourage the child to con
-
tinue his or her account, such as Anything else?” or And then what hap
-
pened?” Sometimes, it is necessary to follow a focused question with a multi
-
ple choice question—a question in which the interviewer provides the child
with several choices from which to choose, such as “Were you indoors or out
of doors when he hurt you?”—or direct questions—a direct inquiry into
382 JOURNAL OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE / April 2003
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
whether an individual committed a particular act, such as “Did your dad hit
your mom in the face?”
The questions that follow are illustrative but not inclusive of all possible
lines of inquiry about people in the child’s life. People-focused inquiries are
as follows:
Tell me about [blank].
What is [blank] like?
Are there things you and [blank] do together?
Tell me about those things.
Are there things you like about [blank]?
What are they?
Are there any things you don’t like about [blank]?
What? Tell me all about them.
Anything else you don’t like about [blank]?
Are there any things [blank] does to you that you don’t like?
Tell me all about those.
Any other things you can think of?
Are there any things [blank] does to other people you don’t like?
Tell me about them.
Does [blank] ever hurt you in any way?
How?
Do you remember whether he did that before or after he beat up your mom?
Another potentially revealing approach is inquiry about the effects of
domestic violence. Interviewers can ask children about sleep patterns; affects
such as fears, anger, and anxiety; and behavior problems. The following
questions focus on the possible impact of domestic violence. Interviewers
may conduct general inquiry about emotions:
What makes you happy?
What makes you sad?
What makes you angry?
What makes you scared?
Or they may employ more focused questions related to the impact of domes
-
tic violence.
How do you sleep?
Do you ever have nightmares?
Tell me about your nightmares.
What is the scariest thing that has happened to you?
Do you ever get so angry you want to hurt someone?
Tell me about what you do.
Faller / RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN CHILD INTERVIEWING 383
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
The interviewer may also need to inquire more directly about domestic
violence using focused questions, followed by invitational questions, narra
-
tive cues, multiple choice, and direct questions.
Do your mom and dad ever disagree?
Tell me what you remember about their last disagreement.
What do they do when they disagree?
Anything else you can think of that they disagree about?
Do they ever have fights?
What do they fight about?
How do they fight?
Do they just yell, or do they ever hit?
Do people in your family slap, hit with a fist, kick, bite?
Tell me everything you remember about the last time that happened.
Does anyone ever get hurt?
Tell me about that.
Does this happen a lot, or has it happened just a few times?
Does anyone ever have to go to the doctor/hospital?
Do any kids ever get hurt when they are fighting?
Does anyone in your family have a gun or knife?
Who?
What can you tell me about [gun or knife]?
How does it effect you when your mom and dad fight?
Because of the high correlation between domestic violence, child mal-
treatment, and other parental endangering behavior, for instance substance
abuse, focused questions with subsequent follow-up inquiry should be
employed to ask about these areas, as well.
For example, many victims of domestic violence have a difficult time pro-
viding adequate care for their children and may neglect them. Questions
about child care may enlighten the interviewer. Illustrative examples are pro-
vided below.
Who takes care of you?
How do they take care of you?
Are there things you like about how they do this?
Tell me all about those.
Are there any things you don’t like?
Can you tell me what you remember about that?
Anything else you don’t like?
Tell me about bedtime.
Who puts you to bed?
What time do you go to bed?
What about food at your house?
Who cooks?
What meals do you eat?
384 JOURNAL OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE / April 2003
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
What do you eat?
Are there any times when there’s no food?
What do you do then?
When [blank] isn’t there, who takes care of you?
Are there times you baby-sit for/take care of yourself?
Is there someone you can call?
How long are you alone?
Are there any younger kids you look out for?
Can you tell me about the last time you took care of yourself?
Who helps you get dressed?
Tell me how they do this.
Who sees you get to school?
How do they do this?
Who takes care of you when you’re sick?
Illustrative questions that focus on possible substance abuse are as follows:
Does anyone at your house ever drink alcohol?
Tell me about the last time [blank] drank alcohol.
Does anyone at your house ever drink beer?
Does anyone at your house ever drink whisky?
How does your mom act when she drinks whisky?
How many times a week does [blank] drink?
Does anyone ever fight when they drink?
Do they just yell, or does someone get hit?
Tell me about the last time there was a fight?
Similar questions can be asked about drug use.
Both analogue studies (e.g., Saywitz, Goodman, Nicholas, & Moan,
1991; Steward et al., 1996) and real world research (e.g., DeVoe & Faller,
2002; Faller, 2000) indicate many questions will be required to determine
whether children are at risk. A single question such as “Is there any violence
in the home?” may elicit a false negative because children are fearful about
revealing family secrets. A series of questions may persuade the child that the
interviewer is genuinely interested and may overcome the child’s reluctance
to disclose. In addition, a simple affirmative response will rarely provide the
interviewer with sufficient information to determine whether there is mal
-
treatment, domestic violence, or other problems.
CONCLUSION
Interviewing children about possible domestic violence may be a strategy
to insure both their safety and that of victims of domestic violence. Often, the
Faller / RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN CHILD INTERVIEWING 385
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
victim of domestic violence will not disclose because of a variety of dynam
-
ics associated with episodes of domestic violence. Children usually do not
seek help for domestic violence on their own. Therefore, specific inquiry may
be needed to uncover domestic violence and associated traumas.
REFERENCES
Aman, C., & Goodman, G. (1990). Children’s use of anatomically detailed dolls to recount an
event. Child Development, 61, 1859-1871.
Beeman, S., Hagemeister, A., & Edeslon, J. (2001). Case management and service receipt in
families experiencing both child maltreatment and woman battering. Journal of Interper
-
sonal Violence, 16(5), 437-458.
Bourg, W., Broderick, R., Flagor, R., Kelly, D., Ervin, D., & Butler, J. (1999). A child inter
-
viewer’s guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage.
Bradley, A., & Wood, J. (1996). How do children tell? The disclosure process in child sexual
abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect, 20(9), 881-891.
Bruck, M., Ceci, S., Francoeur, E., & Renick, A. (1995). Anatomically detailed dolls do not
facilitate preschoolers’ reports of a pediatric examination involving genital touching. Jour-
nal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 1(2), 95-109.
Cantlon, J., Payne, G., & Erbaugh, C. (1996). Outcome based practice: Disclosure rates of child
sexual abuse comparing allegation blind and allegation informed structured interviews.
Child Abuse and Neglect, 20(11), 1113-1120.
Carlson, B. (1991). Outcomes of physical abuse and observations of marital violence among
adolescents in placement. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 6, 526-534.
Carnes, C., Nelson-Gardell, D., & Wilson, C. (2000). Addressing challenges and controversies
in child sexual abuse interviewing: The forensic evaluation protocol and research project.
Journal of Aggression, Trauma, & Maltreatment, 2(4), 83-103.
Carter, C., Bottoms, B., & Levine, M. (1995). Linguistic and socio-emotional influences on the
accuracy of children’s reports. Law and Human Behavior, 20, 335-358.
Ceci, S., & Bruck, M. (1993). The suggestibility of the child witness: A historical review and
synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 403-439.
Ceci, S., Huffman, M., Smith, E., & Loftus, E. (1994). Repeatedly thinking about a non-event:
Source misattributions among preschoolers. Consciousness and Cognition, 3, 388-407.
Ceci, S., Loftus, E., Leichtman, M., & Bruck, M. (1994). The role of source misattributions in the
creation of false beliefs among preschoolers. International Journal of Clinical and Experi
-
mental Hypnosis, 62, 304-320.
Clarke-Stewart, A., Thompson, W., & Lapore, S. (1989, April). Manipulating children’s inter
-
pretations through interrogation. Paper presented at the Society for Research on Child
Development, Kansas City, KS.
Davies, D., Cole, J., Albertella, G., McCullough, L., Allen, K., & Kekevan, H. (1996). A model
for conducting forensic interviews of child victims of abuse. Child Maltreatment, 1(2), 189-
200.
DeVoe, E. R., & Faller, K. C. (1999). Characteristics of disclosure of children who may have
been sexually abused. Child Maltreatment, 4(3), 217-227.
DeVoe, E. R., & Faller, K. C. (2002). Questioning strategies in interviews with children who may
have been sexually abused. Child Welfare, 81(1), 5-32.
386 JOURNAL OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE / April 2003
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Edelson, J. (1999a). Children’s witnessing of adult domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal
Violence, 14(8), 839-870.
Edelson, J. (1999b). The overlap between child maltreatment and women battering. Violence
Against Women, 5(2), 134-154.
Eisen, M., Goodman, G., Davis, S., & Qin, J. (1999). Individual differences in maltreated chil
-
dren’s memory and suggestibility. In L. Williams & V. Banyard (Eds.), Trauma & memory
(pp. 31-46). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage.
Eisen, M., Goodman, G., Qin, J., & Davis, S. (1998). Memory and suggestibility in mal
-
treated children: New research relevant to evaluating allegations of abuse. In S. Lynn &
K. McConkey (Eds.), Truth in memory (pp. 163-189). New York: Guilford.
English, D. (1998, November). Child abuse and neglect: An ecological perspective, Panel pre
-
sentation at the 12th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Cincinnati, OH.
Faller, K. C. (1988). Criteria for judging the credibility of children’s statements about their sex
-
ual abuse. Child Welfare, 67(5), 389-401.
Faller, K. C. (1993). Child sexual abuse: Intervention and treatment issues. Washington, DC:
Department of Health and Human Services.
Faller, K. C. (1996). Interviewing children who may have been abused: A historical perspective
and overview of controversies. Child Maltreatment, 1(2), 4-18.
Faller, K. C. (1999). Focused questions for interviewing children suspected of maltreatment and
other traumatic experiences. APSAC Advisor, 12(1), 14-18.
Faller, K. C. (2000). Questioning children who may have been sexually abused: A synthesis of
research and practice. Journal of Aggression, Trauma, & Maltreatment, 2(4), 37-56.
Ganley, A., & Schechter, S. (1996). Domestic violence: A national curriculum for children’s
protective services. San Francisco: Family Violence Prevention Fund.
Goodman, G., & Clarke-Stewart, A. (1991). The suggestibility of children’s testimony: Implica-
tions for sexual abuse investigations. In J. Doris (Ed.), The suggestibility of children’s recol-
lections (pp. 92-105). New York: American Psychological Association.
Goodman, G., Hirschman, J., Hepps, D., & Rudy, L. (1991). Children’s memory for a stressful
event. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 37, 109-158.
Goodman, G., Wilson, M., Hazan, C., & Reed, R. (1989, March). Children’s testimony nearly
four years after the event. Paper presented at the meeting of the Eastern Psychological Asso
-
ciation, Boston.
Graham-Bermann, S. (2001). Designing intervention evaluations for children exposed to
domestic violence. In S. Graham-Bermann (Ed.), Domestic violence in the lives of children:
The future of research, intervention, and social policy (pp. 237-267). Washington, DC:
American Psychological Association.
Jaffe, P., Wilson, S., & Wolfe, D. (1986). Promoting changes in attitudes and understanding of
children who have witnessed domestic violence. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science,
18, 356-380.
Keary, K., & Fitzpatrick, C. (1994). Children’s disclosures of sexual abuse during formal investi
-
gations. Child Abuse & Neglect, 18(7), 543-548.
Lamb, M., & Sternberg, K. (1999, March). Eliciting accurate investigative statements from chil
-
dren. Paper presented at the Fifteenth National Symposium on Child Sexual Abuse,
Huntsville, AL.
Lawson, L., & Chaffin, M. (1992). False negatives in sexual abuse disclosure interviews. Journal
of Interpersonal Violence, 7(4), 532-542.
Leichtman, M., & Ceci, S. (1995). The effects of stereotypes and suggestions on preschoolers’
reports. Developmental Psychology, 31(4), 568-578.
Faller / RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN CHILD INTERVIEWING 387
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Loftus, E., & Davies, G. (1984). Distortions in the memory of children. Journal of Social Issues,
40(2), 51-67.
Maker, A., Kemmelmeier, M., & Peterson, C. (1998). Long term psychological consequences in
women of witnessing parental physical conflict and experiencing abuse in childhood. Jour
-
nal of Interpersonal Violence, 13, 574-589.
Myers, J. E. B., Saywitz, K., & Goodman, G. (1996). Psychological research on children as wit
-
nesses: Practical implications for forensic interviews and courtroom testimony. Pacific Law
Journal, 28, 3-91.
Peddle, N., & Wang, C.-T. (2001). Current trends in child abuse prevention, reporting, and fatal
-
ities: The 1999 Fifty State Survey. Chicago: Prevent Child Abuse America.
Peterson, C., & Biggs, M. (1997). Interviewing children about trauma: Problems with “specific”
questions. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 10(2), 279-290.
Rivera, B., & Widom, C. (1990). Childhood victimization and violent offending. Violence & Vic
-
tims, 5, 19-35.
Rossman, B. B. (1998). Descarte’s error and post-traumatic stress disorder. In G. W. Holder,
R. Geffner, & E. Jouriles (Eds.), Children exposed to marital violence (pp. 223-256). Wash
-
ington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Russell, D. (1986). The secret trauma: Incest in the lives of women and girls. New York: Basic
Books.
Sas, L., & Cunningham, A. (1995). Tipping the balance to tell the secret: The public discovery of
child sexual abuse. (Available from the London Court Clinic, 254 Pall Mall St., London,
N6A 5P6).
Saunders, D. (1994). Child custody decisions in families experiencing woman abuse. Social
Work, 39(1), 51-59.
Saywitz, K., & Geiselman, R. E. (1998). Interviewing the child witness: Maximizing complete-
ness and minimizing error. In S. Lynn & K. McConkey (Eds.), Truth in memory (pp. 190-
223). New York: Guilford.
Saywitz, K., Goodman, G., Nicholas, E., & Moan, S. (1991). Children’s memory for a genital
examination: Implications for child sexual abuse cases. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, 59, 682-691.
Saywitz, K., Nathanson, R., Snyder, L., & Lamphear, V. (1993). Preparing children for the
investigative and judicial process; Improving communication, memory, and emotional resil
-
iency (Final report to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect; Available from Karen
Saywitz, UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, 1000 W. Carson St.,
Torrance, CA 90509).
Silvern, L., Karl, J., Waelde, L., Hodges, W., Starek, J., Heidt, E., et al. (1995). Retrospective
reports of parental partner abuse: Relationship to depression, trauma symptoms, and self-
esteem among college students. Journal of Family Violence, 10, 177-202.
Sorenson, T., & Snow, B. (1991). How children tell: The process of disclosure in child sexual
abuse. Child Welfare, 70(1), 3-15.
Sternberg, K., Lamb, M., Hershkovitz, I., Yudilevitch, L., Orbach, Y., Esplin, P., et al. (1997).
Effects of introductory style on children’s abilities to describe experiences of sexual abuse.
Child Abuse and Neglect, 21(11), 1133-1146.
Steward, M. S., Steward, D. S., Farquhar, L., Myers, J., Welker, J., Joye, N., et al. (1996). Inter
-
viewing young children about body touch and handling (Monograph series of the Society for
Research on Child Development). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Straus, M. (1983). Ordinary violence, child abuse, and wife beating: What do they have in com
-
mon? In M. Straus & R. Gelles (Eds.), The dark side of families: Current family violence
research (pp. 213-234). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
388 JOURNAL OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE / April 2003
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1998). Finding common ground. Washington,
DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Widom, C. (1989). The intergenerational transmission of violence. New York: Harry Frank
Guggenheim Foundation.
Yuille, J. (2002). The stepwise interview. Unpublished manuscript, University of British Colum
-
bia, Vancouver, Canada.
Zaragoza, M. (1991). Preschool children’s susceptibility to memory impairment. In J. Doris
(Ed.), The suggestibility of children’s recollections (pp. 27-39). Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association.
Kathleen Coulborn Faller, Ph.D., A.C.S.W., D.C.S.W., is professor of social work at the
University of Michigan. She is also director of the Family Assessment Clinic, a multi
-
disciplinary team that evaluates complex child maltreatment cases and provides treat
-
ment; principal investigator on the Interdisciplinary Child Welfare Training Program, a
federally funded program to train multidisciplinary, community-based teams to address
the needs of complex child welfare cases; principal investigator on the Public Child Wel-
fare Supervisor Training Program; and principal investigator of the Hasbro Early
Assessment Project. All of these programs are at the University of Michigan.
Faller / RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN CHILD INTERVIEWING 389
at UNIV OF MICHIGAN on August 13, 2015jiv.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... Neutral encouragements (Faller, 2003:382; Wood & Garven, 2000:112 and SOLER skills (Egan, 2005:89) will be used through the interviewing process; For purposes of legal procedure it is crucial to determine the identity of the alleged perpetrator or perpetrators (Heiman, 1992; Venter, 2006), as well as his/her relationship with the child. It is also necessary to clarify any nicknames or labels that the child uses (Louw, 2005; Starks & Samuel, 2002) as children under 10 years tend to use nicknames and labels without fully comprehending it. ...
... Multiple choice questions are leading if the list of choices offered is not exhaustive (Faller, 2003) and should be avoided as far as possible as it may be regarded as leading (Massengale, 2001). Leading and suggestive questions should be avoided at all times (Bull, 2003; Clarke-Stewart, Malloy, Allhusen, 2004; De Voe & Faller, 2002) as it suggest of course the answer. ...
Thesis
Conducting forensic interviews are challenging and the impact of a poorly conducted interview has a detrimental impact on all persons concerned. This study aimed at developing, implementing and evaluating a seven-phase forensic interview protocol for social workers and allied professionals. Twenty girls in the middle childhood, allegedly been sexually abused, were purposively selected in an experimental and comparison group in order to determine if the proposed seven-phase forensic interview protocol is implementable and which parts of it appears to be probably used in the social work profession in South Africa. The statistical analysis showed that in five of the seven phases a statistically significant difference was found between the experimental and comparison groups. The results propose that the seven-phase forensic interview protocol was successfully implemented, and could probably be considered a new development to the social work profession. However further research with a larger sample of children is needed.
... Neutral encouragements (Faller, 2003:382; Wood & Garven, 2000:112 and SOLER skills (Egan, 2005:89) will be used through the interviewing process; For purposes of legal procedure it is crucial to determine the identity of the alleged perpetrator or perpetrators (Heiman, 1992; Venter, 2006), as well as his/her relationship with the child. It is also necessary to clarify any nicknames or labels that the child uses (Louw, 2005; Starks & Samuel, 2002) as children under 10 years tend to use nicknames and labels without fully comprehending it. ...
... Multiple choice questions are leading if the list of choices offered is not exhaustive (Faller, 2003) and should be avoided as far as possible as it may be regarded as leading (Massengale, 2001). Leading and suggestive questions should be avoided at all times (Bull, 2003; Clarke-Stewart, Malloy, Allhusen, 2004; De Voe & Faller, 2002) as it suggest of course the answer. ...
Article
Conducting forensic interviews are challenging and the impact of a poorly conducted interview has a detrimental impact on all persons concerned. This study aimed at developing, implementing and evaluating a seven-phase forensic interview protocol for social workers and allied professionals. Twenty girls in the middle childhood, allegedly been sexually abused, were purposively selected in an experimental and comparison group in order to determine if the proposed seven-phase forensic interview protocol is implementable and which parts of it appears to be probably used in the social work profession in South Africa. The statistical analysis showed that in five of the seven phases a statistically significant difference was found between the experimental and comparison groups. The results propose that the seven-phase forensic interview protocol was successfully implemented, and could probably be considered a new development to the social work profession. However further research with a larger sample of children is needed.
... However, caution should still be noted in that these instances are certainly the minority, and further research is needed to identify variables that are associated with these differing reports. This is especially concerning as child reports are sometimes used to verify parent reports in forensic assessments and research (Faller, 2003;Knutson et al., 2009;Sternberg et al., 1997). In relation to forensic assessments, greater understanding about causes for differing reports should be assessed before deciding to include or not to include the child's testimony in criminal justice decision-making processes. ...
Article
Reports from 297 mother–child dyads were compared to explore concurrence in relation to violence committed by the father on specific high-risk items and in terms of general risk to the mother and to the child using composite measures. Results indicated the majority of the mother–child dyads report similar risk using eight individual items (60.9%-77.1%) and on the composite measures (61.9% and 54.2%). However, concordance was lower than anticipated. Findings highlight the importance of not simply relying on parental report but instead obtaining the child’s report about their own exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) in clinical, research, and forensic applications.
... A semi-structured interview with caregivers, which consisted of an interview developed for this research to be conducted individually with parents or officials, containing questions about sex, age, educational level, socioeconomic status and health conditions of the participants.. The other interview was directed to children or adolescents and was developed according to the guidelines proposed by Michigan's protocol (Faller 2003). It contains: 1) Initial Phase: builds rapport, provides ground rules, assesses overall functioning and assesses the child's developmental level; 2) Abuse-Focused Phase: open-ended inquiry about possible abuse, follow-up regarding disclosures and asks more specific questions to gather information about details; 3) Closure Phase: interviewer explains what will happen next and reassures the child or adolescent, if needed. ...
Article
The psychometric properties of the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) were examined in 124 children and adolescents aged 8-16 years. Principal Component Analysis was performed to investigate the principal components of the TSCC, and Confirmatory Factor Analysis was conducted to test the dimensional structure of the TSCC. Results confirmed a six-factor structure, which fitted well with the data. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for the scales of TSCC yielded evidence for good internal reliability, with values ranging from 0.64 to 0.85. Strong evidence of convergent validity was observed through correlations with the Child Depression Inventory and Child Behavior Checklist. The preliminary results suggest that the TSCC is reliable and showed adequate evidence of validity.
... Children's exposure to domestic violence is of great concern as it has been demonstrated that witnessing violence may lead to a variety of negative outcomes for children, including emotional and behavioral difficulties (e.g., Margolin, 1998), as well as other difficulties. Although the legal system has not yet made it mandatory to report incidents of domestic violence between parents, evidence regarding the impact of children witnessing these violent events is now well documented and is providing an impetus for the further protection of victims of domestic violence (Faller, 2003; Matthews, 1999). To highlight the adverse effects of exposure to domestic violence on children, this paper will summarize the literature regarding domestic violence in terms of its prevalence, its potential effects on children, intervention strategies that may play a curative role in ameliorating its effects, and future considerations . ...
Article
The frequency with which children are exposed to domestic violence is unsettling. Children's exposure to domestic violence can have adverse effects on their functioning, including the promotion of emotional and behavioral difficulties as well as other difficulties. A number of factors, such as the age of the children when they are exposed and the psychological well being of their mothers, may have mediating and moderating effects on the outcomes for children. Although interventions have been based on the individual, family, and community, few interventions have combined these approaches. Given the widespread effects of domestic violence, interventions for the effects of domestic violence should be framed within an ecological framework. This paper reviews the current issues concerning children's exposure to domestic violence and discusses interventions within an ecological framework that may be applied to counteract the adverse effects suffered by children.
... The "overall helpfulness" of the session was not addressed in this interview because the concept was believed to be too advanced for young children (Flavell, Green, & Flavell, 1995). Evidence-based child interviewing methods (e.g., cognitive interviewing techniques, focused inquiry, visual aids) were incorporated into the interview to increase children's participation and recall of events without sacrificing accuracy (Carnes, Nelson-Gardell, & Wilson, 2000;Faller, 2003;Myers, Saywitz, & Goodman, 1996). Support was found for discriminant validity of the child interview items. ...
Article
This exploratory, observational study was designed to reveal descriptive information regarding therapists' actual practices with preschool- and school-aged children in a single session of family therapy and to investigate change mechanisms in family play therapy that have been proposed to make this approach effective. A purposive sample of 30 families receiving family therapy was recruited and video-taped during a family session where at least one child between the ages of 4 and 12 was present. Following the session, the therapist and parent(s) completed questionnaires while one of the children (aged 4-12) was interviewed. Session recordings were coded, minute-by-minute, for participant talk time, visual aids or props used, and therapy technique type (e.g., play-based/activity vs. talk-only techniques). Hierarchical regression and canonical correlational analyses revealed evidence supporting the theory that play-based techniques promote young children's participation, enhance the quality of the child-therapist relationship, and build positive emotional experiences in family therapy.
... Children's exposure to domestic violence is of great concern as it has been demonstrated that witnessing violence may lead to a variety of negative outcomes for children, including emotional and behavioral difficulties (e.g., Margolin, 1998), as well as other difficulties. Although the legal system has not yet made it mandatory to report incidents of domestic violence between parents, evidence regarding the impact of children witnessing these violent events is now well documented and is providing an impetus for the further protection of victims of domestic violence (Faller, 2003; Matthews, 1999). To highlight the adverse effects of exposure to domestic violence on children, this paper will summarize the literature regarding domestic violence in terms of its prevalence, its potential effects on children, intervention strategies that may play a curative role in ameliorating its effects, and future considerations . ...
Article
The prevalence of domestic violence is concerning due to its debilitating impact on the psychological, social and academic functioning of children. This study explored the experiences, strengths and challenges of school mental health staff in relation to students exposed to domestic violence. Interviews with 10 school wellbeing staff working in Victoria, Australia, showed that these staff felt confronted and distressed, and were unsure of their role in managing the complexities associated with students’ exposure to domestic violence. Staff reported the need for educators, students and parents to be educated on domestic violence, and for improved school structures and policies that encourage staff consultation and self-care following students’ disclosures of domestic violence. The results of this study are discussed within the context of trauma-informed practice and multi-tiered mental health promotion in schools.
Article
This study explored how children with cerebral palsy describe competent performance in everyday activities and sought to better understand the processes by which the children developed competence. Five children with cerebral palsy aged six to 17 years participated in a three-step procedure that included two observations, one semi-structured interview with narrative elaboration, and one cognitive interview. Three factors influenced the competence of children in this study: the environment—people, places, and objects; the quality of the activity—fun and importance; and the child’s personal characteristics—strengths and impairments. The process of building competence was characterised by practice and problem-solving. The outcome of this process was being competent or “doing lots of things”. Children played an active role by problem-solving impairment-related challenges or environmental barriers. “Doing” was not related to the child’s skills or level of independence, but to engagement in activities considered fun and important to the child.
Article
Previous studies suggest that around 30 per cent of children may witness domestic abuse, by which we mean physical or mental violence perpetrated by men on women. This paper reports the views of older children—a group from which there is little direct evidence available. Ninety-eight percent of pupils in a Scottish Secondary School consented to participate. Thirty-two per cent wrote that they were currently witnessing domestic abuse. We compared their responses with those of pupils who said they were not currently experiencing domestic abuse and found marked differences. For example ten ‘experiencing’ pupils said a young person might feel suicidal in this situation, a response that was not used at all by ‘non-experiencing’ pupils. This group also wrote a greater number and wider range of negative descriptors for how a young person might feel. These results have implications for the well-being of young people experiencing domestic abuse. There may be scope for building on this methodology for further education and training among school pupils and their teachers, and to highlight the crucial support that these pupils may need.
Chapter
Post traumatic stress disorder is a trauma- and stressor-related disorder characterized by persistent symptoms after a traumatic event. The pathophysiology involves dysregulation of inhibitory input from the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala, resulting in increased monoaminergic neurotransmission and activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The disorder is treated with a variety of medications including antidepressant and antianxiety drugs, as well as various types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Article
Living in a violent home and child maltreatment are major public health and social justice concerns that affect numerous children and adolescents in the USA and around the world (Gilbert et al. 2009). In fiscal year 2010, nearly 3 million children were referred to child protection service agencies for suspectedmaltreatment in theUSA.Of them, about 700,000 children were determined by state and local child protective service agencies to be victims of maltreatment, and about 1,700 children died as a result of child abuse or neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2011). The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Bulletin (Finkelhor et al. 2009) reported that 60.6 % of children in a US national survey were exposed to violence during the past year, either directly or indirectly. The costs of child maltreatment in the USA have been estimated to be in the billions of dollars annually (Wang and Holton 2007) and lost income (Currie and Widom 2010). As an abused or neglected child matures, the social costs of maltreatment shift to the adult criminal justice system, rehabilitation services, and income maintenance systems. Other evidence suggests that as many as 10 million US children witness violence between their caregivers each year (Straus 1991). Although children can encounter violence in a number of settings, violence in the home may have the greatest impact on children’s development (Margolin and Gordis 2000; Osofsky 1999).
Article
Children's (N = 176) reported memories of a strange man's visit were studied. Three- to 6-year-olds were interviewed repeatedly after the event in one of the following conditions: (a) control, in which no interviews contained suggestive questions; (b) stereotype, in which children were given previsit expectations about the stranger; (c) suggestion, in which interviews contained erroneous suggestions about misdeeds committed by the stranger; and (d) stereotype plus suggestion, in which children were given both pre- and postvisit manipulations. Results from open-ended interviews after 10 weeks indicated that control participants provided accurate reports, stereotypes resulted in a modest number of false reports, and suggestions resulted in a substantial number of false reports. Children in the stereotype-plus-suggestion group made high levels of false reports. All experimental conditions showed dramatic developmental trends favoring older children.