Investigative Psychology – What Does It Mean And How Can It Help Law Enforcement Investigations? Evaluating The IP System And Detective Part IX

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

In dealing with child sexual abuse allegations, law enforcement officials need procedures, processes, purposes, and protocols for anyone in the law enforcement agency to utilize when confronted with investigating a claim. The need to have these policies determines how a child victim needs to be interviewed. Each child victim is different; therefore the IP Detective must be flexible, competent and intelligent in their approach to conducting the child interview.

The problem with all of the procedures to protocols to policies is over the past four decades scientists have taken over how to properly investigate child sexual abuse allegations. The reason for the scientists to be involved is over the past two centuries, law enforcement stood in the background and did little to perpetuate the significance of why law enforcement officials should be involved when a child comes forward and tells someone they have been sexually assaulted.

The IP System has numerous variables, characteristics and facets involved for the IP Detective to have available during the child sexual assault investigations. The IP Detective needs to believe that there are specific strategies which can be addressed during the initial steps in beginning the investigation.

The IP Detective must understand that the training, education and experience they receive should teach them that children are not use to being interviewed. In fact, the first and second interviews generally conducted by the IP Detective needs to be competent and intelligent. Clumsy IP Detectives have no place in the child victim interview process.

The IP Detective needs to understand that a clumsy interview has no place in a child sexual abuse investigation. The child victim needs to submit to a child interview where the questions are complete and thorough and the child victim is not re-traumatized by the questions posed by the IP Detective.

The child victim interview should be conducted in such a manner that the 7 W’s are asked during the initial and follow-up interviews. The 7 W’s are:

1. What

2. Which

3. Where

4. Who

5. How

6. When

7. Why

Let us examine each “W” so there is an understanding why these questions are so vital to a successful interview. If a child victim interviewer can obtain information by asking the 7 W’s the information obtained should determine if a crime was or was not committed.


1. What happened (what’s the story)?

2. What did the alleged sexual offender say prior to, during and after the incident?

3. What did the alleged sexual offender look like? Describe him head to toe.

4. What did you do prior to, during, and after you were sexually abused?

5. What did you say to the alleged sexual offender prior to, during, and after the incident?

6. What area of your body did the alleged sexual offender touch?

7. What did the touches feel like?

8. What do you believe you could have done to stop from being sexually assaulted?

9. What did the alleged sexual offender do to get you alone in your home?

10. What happened after the sexual assault was completed?


1. Which hand touched your private parts?

2. Which parts of his body touched your private areas?

3. Which did he do first?

4. Which time did he tell you he would kill your mother if you told someone about the touching?

5. Which time did he make you afraid of being alone with him?

6. Which time did he threaten to hurt you or your dog?

7. Which friend did you tell about the alleged sexual offender?

8. Which friend told her mother that you had been sexually assaulted by the man in the park?

9. Which description is true and correct?

10. Which makes you feel safe now? Being with someone or being alone?


1. When did it take place?

2. When was the first time you met the alleged sexual offender?

3. When did he tell you that he loved you?

4. When did you feel safe?

5. When did you believe you could tell what the alleged sexual offender did to you?

6. When were you born?

7. When did your mother and father teach you about good and bad touches?

8. When are you allowed to use the computer to go on Facebook?

9. When do you have to go to bed?

10. When did he come into your bedroom and touch you?


1. Why did it happen? If you know.

2. Why was the alleged sexual offender at your house?

3. Why did you stop by the alleged sexual offender’s house?

4. Why did your mother leave you alone with the alleged sexual offender, if you know why?

5. Why did you put the wrong information in your diary?

6. Why didn’t you tell your father or mother about what the alleged sexual offender did to you?

7. Why were you wearing your regular clothes in bed at night time?

8. Why did he hit you in the stomach, if you know, if he told you?

9. Why did he bring a video camera into your bedroom?

10. Why did you not scream when he kept coming into your bedroom at night?


1. Where did the sexual assaults take place?

2. Where in the room did he touch you?

3. Where was everybody else?

4. Where was your mother when he came into your bedroom?

5. Where did he touch you?

6. Where did he show you the pictures of the naked man and woman?

7. Where did he want you to stand; lay; sit or a combination of positions?

8. Where did you try to hide from the alleged sexual offender?

9. Where during the alleged sexual assault did you begin to cry?

10. Where on your body did he hurt you?


1. Who is this information about?

2. Who was the alleged sexual offender to you?

3. Who may have seen the alleged sexual offender touching you inappropriately?

4. Who knew about the sexual touching incident(s)?

5. Who was the first person you told?

6. Who let you be with the alleged sexual offender alone in your house?

7. Who brought up the need for you to clean yourself up?

8. Who was the doctor who took care of you at the hospital?

9. Who was it that you spoke to at the hospital; the first person?

10. Who was it that made you be so strong that you came forward to tell what the alleged sexual offender did to you?


1. How did it happen?

2. How much time did the alleged sexual offender keep you isolated from others?

3. How did the alleged sexual offender keep you from making noises to alert others?

4. How old were you when the alleged sexual offender touched you the first time?

5. How did the alleged sexual offender keep you from telling authority figures that he/she sexually assaulted you?

6. How many times did the alleged sexual offender touch you inappropriately?

7. How did the alleged sexual offender get you to comply?

8. How did he clean his private parts before, during and after the sexual assault?

9. How did your clothes get taken off?

10. How was it that the alleged sexual offender

As you can see, the 7 W’s provide the IP Detective with at least 70 questions and answers. Of course some of these questions are leading and suggestive and inappropriate to ask in a child victim interview. Using the term ‘alleged sexual offender’ would be replaced with the perpetrator’s real name.

In interviewing child victims the IP Detective would need to be as creative and innovative as possible in the type of questions he/she would ask. You can never properly prepare for a child interview where the IP Detective asks all the right questions. Any IP Detective who tells you they conducted a perfect child victim interview would be mistaken. There is no way to get around it as the IP Detective has to adjust to the answers by the child victim. The answers by the child victim may take the IP Detective down the road; a different road than anticipated.

Tomorrow, I will continue discussing the issues surrounding how child interviews should be conducted. The complexity of the child victim interview is something the IP Detective cannot take lightly. The IP Detective must plan ahead in order to come up with alternative hypothesis. The fact-finding mission by the IP Detective provides answers to the questions which may lead to an inappropriate motive by the child victim; and the reasons why the child victim is telling the truth and/or lies about the alleged sexual assault(s).

                           Forensic Child Sexual Abuse Investigations Part 1
                                     By: Lawrence W. Daly
                                     Webinar Time- September 22, 2011 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
                                     Registration Fee - $99.00

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