Before the Interview

The team approach used at Child Advocacy Centers has been deemed best practice in the investigation of child abuse cases.  This approach ensures all aspects of the case are examined and that efforts are coordinated between professionals.

Here are some tips to help you work more effectively with the investigative team:

  • Be calm and reassuring to your child.  Don’t coach your child on what to say; it’s important that the story come out in your child’s own words and in your child’s own time.
  • When you’re asked for information, provide as many facts as you can.  Cases are built on the “four W’s”: who, what, when and where.
  • Always be honest, even when the truth may not seem favorable to your case.
  • Love, support and protect your child at all times.


Children ages 3 to 17 may be interviewed at New Hampshire’s Child Advocacy Centers if they allege sexual abuse, felony level physical abuse or have been witness to a violent crime such as domestic violence, homicide or suicide.  Referrals to your local Child Advocacy Center will be made by law enforcement or the Division for Children Youth and Families (DCYF). If your child is not referred to a Child Advocacy Center, or if you have any questions, call us.

Your local Child Advocacy Center will work with you and the investigative team to schedule your child’s interview.  Interviews are usually scheduled Monday through Friday at 9:30, 11:30, 1:30 or 3:30.  Only one family interview is scheduled at a time to ensure your privacy.

Family members are not allowed to observe the interview.

Alleged offenders are not allowed on the premises of any Child Advocacy Center.

Your child will be talking with a forensic interview specialist.  The forensic interviewer has special training and is experienced in talking with children about difficult subjects.  The interviewer’s goal is to make your child as comfortable as possible while gathering the necessary information for an investigation.  The interviewer moves at a pace that is comfortable for your child and never forces a child to talk.

Parents often wonder:

How should I explain the interview process to my child, especially if they have already made a disclosure to me or someone else?
Tell your child that they will be meeting with someone who talks to children about very difficult things.  Tell your child that even though they have told things to you or someone else, it is important that the information is given to people who’s jobs are to protect children.

When should I tell my child the interview will be taking place?
Usually a day or two is enough time. Give your child enough notice so they don’t feel surprised, but also don’t give them too long a time to worry about what they may have to do.

What if my child starts to ask me questions about what they have to say?
Tell your child that you don’t know exactly what questions will be. Give your child permission to talk about what they have disclosed.  Be general in what you tell your child: “It’s okay to tell the interviewer what you told me (or someone else) happened to you when you were….”  Do not repeat the details of what they have disclosed and don’t ask them anymore questions.  Let the professionals do all the asking.

What if my child asks if I will be in the room with them?
Assure your child that while they are talking to the interviewer you will be in the waiting room.

What if my child says they don’t want to do this because they already told the story?
Tell your child that you understand their feelings of frustration, especially since it is a difficult story to tell.  But also tell them how brave they were for telling in the first place and how proud you are of their honesty and bravery.

How can I support my child?
Provide safety, love and support.  Let them know it is okay to cry or be mad.  Make sure your child understands it is not his or her fault.  Don’t coach or pressure your child to talk about things.

Here are some things you can say that will help your child:

  • I believe you.
  • I know it’s not your fault.
  • I am glad I know about it.
  • I am sorry this happened to you.
  • I will take care of you.
  • Nothing about YOU made this happen.
  • It has happened to other children too.
  • You don’t need to take care of me.
  • I am upset, but not with you.
  • I am angry at the person who did this; I am not mad at you.