A method for evaluating child forensic interviews


In the majority of legally validated sexual abuse cases, the victim's statement is the only evidence that abuse has occurred (1). Because there is debate about how forensic interviews are conducted, they are often called into question in legal settings. The current research proposes a systematic method for evaluating child forensic interviews: The Protocol for Evaluating Forensic Interviews of Children (PEFIC). The PEFIC is an observational rating scale designed to evaluate any child forensic interview (e.g., sexual abuse, crime witness, etc.) for the presence of potential biasing factors that can affect the child's report. The PEFIC uses a hypothesis testing approach to make statements about the quality of an interview (e.g., does the interview contain certain problematic behaviors which might be associated with biased recall) and therefore about the quality of the information produced by that interview. The validity, reliability, and stability of training effects for the PEFIC are evaluated. Results suggest that raters achieved a high overall accuracy using the PEFIC, even at two-month follow-up. Weaknesses of the PEFIC and future research directions are discussed.



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American Journal of Forensic Psychology