Conducting Forensic Interviews with Children: What Justice Professionals Need to Know

Conducting Forensic Interviews with Children: What Justice Professionals Need to Know
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-08-25
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Conducting Forensic Interviews with Children
Unit 2Transcript: Conducting Forensic Interviews with Children
Unit 3Workbook: Conducting Forensic Interviews with Children
Unit 4Recording: Conducting Forensic Interviews with Children

This is the second part of the webinar series on Forensic Interviews with Children. The first installment provided guidance on the types of information to gather that are valuable when preparing for forensic interviews as well as instances when a forensic interview specialist is needed, samples of interview questions, the limits of a forensic interview, and alternative explanations that are worth exploring. This session zeroes in on the steps and pointers when conducting the interviews.

Continuing her discussion is Wendy Dutton, a forensic interviewer for 30 years. She’s conducted more than 10,000 forensic interviews, testified frequently as an expert witness for child abuse cases, and worked with sexual offenders in the prison and probation systems.

Points covered in this webinar include:

  • An overview of the Modified National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) Protocol, why it is the recommended forensic interview model, its steps, and the population it applies to.
  • The value of rapport building to engage with children in a strange situation and acclimate them to the interview process and prompts.
  • Samples of questions used as prompts during a forensic interview and key narrative prompts for suspected cases of chronic abuse.
  • The advantages of open-ended rapport to get the child to adjust to the novel situation, encourage the child to speak more and reveal more details, and for the interviewer to assess for potential developmental delays.
  • Situations that children must be practiced in to express themselves and their needs.
  • The importance of the promise to tell the truth and how it impacts the child’s likelihood to tell the truth.
  • Guidelines on useful questions to ask when inviting the child to talk and provide narrative information.
  • The difference between script and episodic memory, discerning between the two, and challenges when children shift from one to another.
  • Tips on how an interviewer can focus a child’s attention to provide details of specific incidents through the tell-gather cycle, and focusing on the last time, first time, and most remembered time.
  • Things that an interviewer would need to clarify to unpack key incidents that can provide further information on how to charge a particular case.
  • Techniques and approaches that interviewers can employ to increase narrative production in children.
  • Increasing children’s resistance to suggestions through neutral open-ended questions and avoiding WH, forced choice, multiple choice, tag leading and suggestive yes/no questions.
  • A rundown of topics to look into and specific questions to ask to provide a better context of the relationship between the abuser and the child and get the trier of fact to understand the nuances of the dynamics.
  • Suggested talking points for a neutral closure that recognizes how daunting the interview is and acknowledges the child’s courage to speak up and tell their story.

Questions from the webinar participants are about:

  • Using the protocol to interview individuals with cognitive disabilities – both children and adults.
  • The minimum age for children to effectively participate in forensic interviews.
  • Nuances on the interview style between younger children and older ones.
  • Ensuring that rapport questions are appropriate and relevant to the interviewee.
  • Activities and play items made available for children during interviews.
  • Whether parents or a support person should be in the room during the interview.
  • Taking breaks to prevent fatigue and frustration during the interview.
  • Inquiring about pet abuse and other forms of violence in the household.


Other Webinars with this Presenter



Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • I think the actual information on how to build rapport was really helpful. Also, it was important to understand different language patterns of children to ID which type of memory they are using. — Brandon
  • “So much of this information is new to me that it’s hard to pin down a single bit of information. If I had to pick, I really enjoyed learning about the differences in interviewing techniques depending on the child’s age.” — Marilyn
  • “Always useful information since little training is given on this topic.” — Matthew
  • “The webinar was overall informative and provided an interesting perspective.” — Natisha
  • “Practical examples of how to incorporate interviewing techniques.” — Nancy
  • “Everything in this webinar was very valuable.” — Olga
  • “Providing the wording for interview prompts was fantastic. Too often presenters deal in generalities and “big picture” thinking. Ms. Dutton provided real-world language that was invaluable for an interview. One of the best presentations I’ve seen.” — Tim
  • “I found that giving the child permission to ask for a question to be repeated, permission to say I don’t know, permission to correct the interviewer, etc. is so important. It makes perfect sense, I just never thought of it before. I also found the idea of having the child promise to tell the truth very interesting. Another thing that makes perfect sense. Thank you for this webinar.” — Dawn
  • “I appreciate how brief yet detailed. It is obvious to see Ms. Dutton’s expertise. Excellent presentation.” — Dina
  • “The various formats for asking forensic interview questions. The examples provided were very helpful.” — Donna
  • “This entire presentation was very helpful, knowing the key points you are trying to understand that would be beneficial to the investigation is helpful and also knowing techniques to keep the child talking about a specific event is also very helpful. Thank you!” — Elizabeth
  • “The facilitator AND presenter were very clear and “down to earth.” Although I have never been a part of a Forensic Interview, it is still knowledge needed for my job. I was able to follow and understand what was being talked about..Very relatable. I didn’t feel it was over my head or not relevant to me. Anyone could learn from this presentation. Great! Thank you.” — Lekeisha
  • “I liked that Wendy talked about exploring grooming to explain to a jury why a child that’s been victimized would want to continue having a relationship with the suspect, and why they didn’t tell sooner. I’ve been investigating these cases and attending forensic interviews for over 16 years now. In that time I’ve attended a great deal of training. Wendy’s training today was spot on for explaining forensic interviews. I plan to pass this course on to the new detectives we bring to this field. Thank you!” — Gennie
  • “Wendy was incredibly informative and concise. The best part were the methods that Wendy discussed in the interview setting, since they can be applied to everyone and not just children.” — Sarah






This webinar was pre-approved for 1 CEU credit by the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP).  Founded in 1975, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is the oldest national victim assistance organization of its type in the United States and is the recognized leader in victim advocacy, education and credentialing.  To learn more about NOVA, visit




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