Do you believe or does your client believe that a child has been sexually abused? A most important first step is to seek out capable, qualified and highly trained professional help. Your first call should be to Child Protection Services. [NOTE: The contact information for the agency near you in Michigan can be found here.] You should not attempt to elicit the details from the child yourself. This may seriously compromise prosecution of a child molester. There are many links below to resources that may be found online dealing with the tools used by experts to determine whether the abuse alleged has actually occurred.
The State of Michigan recognized that multiple interviews of child sexual abuse victims was not only potentially damaging to the children, but also could result in the child’s statements being disregarded by the court. A child who has been interviewed many times will begin to sound rehearsed and unbelievable. A Governor’s Task Force on Children’s Justice was organized in 1992. This Task Force was created in response to the tremendous challenges involved in the handling of child abuse—particularly child sexual abuse cases. In August 1993, the Task Force published A Model Child Abuse Protocol—Coordinated Investigative Team Approach.
In 1998, Michigan's Child Protection Law was amended to require each county to implement a standard child abuse and neglect investigation and interview protocol using as a model the protocols developed in 1993. That led to publication of the manual for the Forensic Interviewing Protocol. In September 2003, another Task Force Committee reviewed and revised the protocol. The Committee edited sections for clarity, improved the examples, added Quick Guides, and provided some additional reference material, including relevant statutes. The updated 1998 Forensic Interviewing Protocol may be found here. http://tinyurl.com/c899mm
Proper training in the use of the Forensic Interview Protocol is required. Often people who are not properly trained can significantly interfere with an investigation and compromise or discredit the conclusions reached by competent professionals. For this reason I strongly advise parents never to question a child about what happened and always to guard against repetitive interviews. Proper implementation of the Forensic Interviewing Protocol requires professional training. Professionals who have received appropriate training in the application of the protocol should conduct the interviews of children. DHS Publication 794 [Coordinated Investigative Team Approach] which may be found here. http://tinyurl.com/qr5cd5
The FBI profiling bulletin may be found here. http://tinyurl.com/oeacsx Parents seeking to protect their children will want to call this profiling bulletin to the attention of their local police agency and prosecutor. Valuable information is found in this bulletin about how to help document and prove the suspected abuse by delving further into the profile of the alleged perpetrator.
Parents and family lawyers faced with issues--whether from the position of getting the interviews and conclusions into evidence for the parent who has sought help for the child or from the position of defending a parent who may be wrongfully accused--will do well to have studied these resources to ensure that the proper protocol has been followed.