The Interviewer – Are Those Being Interviewed Telling The Truth Or Are They Lying? Part IV

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

For year’s law enforcement officials have tried to find the interviewing model, which will bring about positive and successful results.  There are many child sexual abuse interview models available for law enforcement officials to choose from.  These models must bring about integrity, credibility, and validity.  If the models fall short of the specific goals, then they do not serve the law enforcement officials well.

Over the past couple days I have explored the usefulness of the cognitive interview model which law enforcement began utilizing in approximately 1987.  Since then the cognitive interview model has been revamped on several occasions to make the model more effective and efficient.

The desire to use the cognitive interview model by law enforcement officials is not an easy one as it has its pros and cons and there are other interview models available.  In the background, there are other interview models such as the Step-Wise Interview Model, developed in Germany.  This interview model provides a list of areas and characteristics, which explore the allegations by asking questions in specific ways.  Dr. John Yuille, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, further develops this model.  Dr. Yuille has devoted the past twenty years in understanding, training others and implementing the use of the Step-Wise Interview Protocol.

The Step-Wise Interview Model is scientifically based, practical and ethical.  It is specifically utilized in the interviewing of child sexual abuse victims and witnesses.  The Step-Wise Interview Model has now proceeded to a new level of competence and is called the Stepwise Guidelines for Interviewing Children: The Next Generation.

This new model minimizes the negative impact of the interview upon interviewees, maximizes the quantity and quality of information obtained from the child sexual abuse victim, and allows law enforcement officials to tailor their interviews to the demands of the case at hand.

The cognitive interview model and the stepwise guidelines for interviewing children have many similarities, except the cognitive interview does not “grade” the outcome of the interview.  In the stepwise model, there are specific categories in which the child or witness can provide information about.  The child and/or witness receive a specific amount of points for providing information in each of these categories.
If the points total up to a specific number, than the law enforcement official may make a determination about the veracity of the child sexual abuse victim and/or witness.
In the cognitive interview model, there are no specific categories, which are given points to determine a child sexual abuse victim’s capacity.  Instead, as I have discussed these past several days, there are specific areas, which the interviewer can explore which may or may not bring about veracity or credibility for the child. 

Like other interview models, the step-wise model and cognitive interview model all have their pros and cons. Law enforcement officials must decide which interview model matches the personalities of their child interviewers and detectives and/or both.  The personalities need to match whichever interview model being utilized.  The reasons are the mental stages an interviewer goes through prior to the interview, during the interview and after the interview will be different for the various interview models.

In the step-wise model, the law enforcement official may expend too much time thinking about how much time they have expended in each category and what the results are going to be.  In the cognitive interviewing model, the law enforcement official may expend too much time worrying about the use of visual imagery by the child victim.  Whatever the reasons for the success and failures, research needs to be conducted to determine if the mental stages of the law enforcement official affect the end results of the interview.

In the child sexual abuse scientific community the interview models all have their strengths and weaknesses.  There has been a lot of research on many of the interview models.  The information provided in these research projects is helpful for law enforcement.  They provide enough information about which protocol and procedure would work best for the child sexual abuse victims and witnesses.

Some of the interview models may be a benefit to middle class children, where the other interview models may have a negative effect on specific classes of children.  The cognitive interview maybe too sophisticated of an interview model for child sexual abuse victim who come from the lower class communities.

The step-wise model maybe more appropriate for lower to middle class communities because of the categories, which are used by the law enforcement official who is performing the interview.  There has been no research on which interview model affects specific classes of children and the effect of such models on the interviewer and child sexual abuse victims and witnesses.  The information of which interview model is generally the most adequate, when it comes to the economic status, needs to be explored by the scientific communities.

The experience I have with all the interview models allows me to analyze by experience, education, and training just how effective each model may be under specific circumstances i.e. the class of the community and the educational level of the child sexual abuse victims and witnesses.

Tomorrow, I will continue to compare other interview models with the cognitive, step-wise, and other interview models.  The significance of the comparison is for the law enforcement official(s) to make a determination on which model would be appropriate to use in their police department and community.  In reference to the larger police departments where there are so many mixed communities i.e. race, economic status and etc. the law enforcement officials may want to utilize a variety of the interview models. 

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

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