An evaluation of the necessity to use structured protocols to conduct forensic interviews
Van Deventer, Adriana
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Child sexual abuse cases are particularly important in ensuring that victims and falsely accused individuals are protected and perpetrators are successfully convicted. Recent and continuing increases in the number of children who allege that they have been victims of sexual abuse have emphasized the need for evaluating the competence and credibility of young witnesses. This research focussed on evaluating the use of a structured, evidence-based interview protocol which can determine whether legal action is required and whether the investigation process is legally sound and scientifically validated. The empirical investigation focused on obtaining data by conducting focus groups. This is called group interviewing, and is considered a qualitative method. An exploratory research design was used to gain insight into the use of the forensic interview that is relatively new and unstudied in South Africa. Two different focus groups were held, one of which consisted of participants with post graduate training in conducting a forensic interview using evidence-based protocols. In contrast, the other focus group participants had no post graduate training, but nevertheless conducted interviews with abused children. It was evident that the social workers who had post graduate training in forensic interviewing and employing a structured evidence-based protocol perceived it to be an indispensable tool. The social workers without post graduate training showed limited knowledge of the structured forensic interview. The outcome of the findings proved the necessity of having a structured evidence-based protocol to conduct forensic interviews. If a forensic interview is used, it is possible to obtain a single, objective, clear picture of the details of the alleged abuse – who abused the child, when and how often, how it occurred and where. The forensic interview can lead to the successful investigation and prosecution of criminal offences that depend on obtaining reliable information from child victims and witnesses.
- Health Sciences