Is interviewer support associated with the reduced reluctance and enhanced informativeness of alleged child abuse victims?

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Blasbalg, Uri 
Hershkowitz, Irit 
Lamb, Michael E 
Ahern, Elizabeth C 

Child maltreatment victims are often reluctant to report abuse when formally interviewed. Evidence-based guidelines like the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Standard Investigative Interview Protocol do not adequately address such reluctance because they are focused on cognitive rather than socioemotional strategies. The present study was designed to determine whether the Revised National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Protocol, which emphasizes supportive interviewing more than the standard protocol does, might predict increases in the overall informativeness and reductions in the reluctance of alleged victims. A total of 254 interviews, 166 using the revised protocol and 88 using the standard protocol, were conducted with 4.06- to 13.98-year-old children (M = 9.20, SD = 2.49) who disclosed multiple incidents of physical abuse by their parents and were thus expected to be more reluctant than victims of extrafamilial abuse. We coded indices of interviewer support and question types, children's reluctance, and informativeness in each utterance during the substantive phases of the interviews. The Revised Protocol was associated with better interviewer support and questioning as well as reduced reluctance and increased informativeness on the part of the children. These findings document the value of training interviewers to attend to the socioemotional needs of suspected abuse victims during investigative interviews. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Adolescent, Child, Child Abuse, Child, Preschool, Crime Victims, Female, Humans, Interview, Psychological, Male, Social Support
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Law Hum Behav
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American Psychological Association (APA)
Nuffield Foundation (CPF/40211)
Jacobs Foundation (2012-1024)
Haruv Institute (unknown)
Nuffield Foundation Jacobs Foundation