FBI, This Week: Child/Adolescent Forensic Interviewers Help Young Victims

April 6, 2017

In observation of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the FBI highlights the work of child/adolescent forensic interviewers, who work to elicit accounts of crime from child victims in a sensitive and unbiased way.

Audio Transcript

Mollie Halpern: Every April, the country observes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Victims of and witnesses to crime can include society’s most vulnerable—such as children, teenagers, and those with cognitive challenges.

The FBI’s child/adolescent forensic interviewers use a research-based phased protocol to elicit accounts of crime from child victims in a sensitive and unbiased way.

One such expert, Martha Finnegan, says the goal is to obtain a statement that can be used in court.

Martha Finnegan: We’re meeting them where they are developmentally—their cognitive development, their linguistic development, their sexual development—wherever that person is developmentally, that’s where we’re starting the interview.

Halpern: The interviews are part of investigations ranging from child pornography to terrorism.

The theme of this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is Strength. Resilience. Justice. And those qualities are reasons Finnegan loves her job.

Finnegan: These kids can be so brave. Some of the things they have to talk about are pretty horrendous, but it’s great to be able to help them get through what can be a pretty tough time. To see how brave they are and how resilient they can be is pretty fulfilling.

Halpern: With FBI, This Week, I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau.

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