Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
Dr. Kim P Roberts
A great deal of research has examined ways in which investigative interviewers can elicit accurate information from children. More recently, research has studied children’s own thoughts or comprehension of abuse, and how these types of statements relate to disclosure, others’ perceptions of child witnesses, and psychological trauma. However, little research has investigated multiple types of children’s thoughts about abuse as they occur in an actual investigative interview. The current study examined seven types of statements children made about their abuse in a sample of 86 transcripts of investigative interviews conducted by Child Protective Services and a police department in a mid-sized Ontario city. Children interviewed ranged from 4- to 17-years-of-age, with approximately equal numbers of males and females. Type of abuse disclosed in the interviews ranged from verbal abuse to sexual abuse. Two coders independently coded each transcript for seven statement types: expected consequences of disclosure, actual consequences of disclosure, minimization, justification for either self, perpetrator, or other, and blame. Whether the statements were elicited by an interviewer prompt or mentioned spontaneously by the child was also coded. Results demonstrated that children blamed the perpetrator more than any other statement type, consistent with previous research. Analyses also revealed a significant relationship between abuse type and children’s statements, and alleged perpetrator and children’s statements. Results from the current study have implications for disclosure, treatment of psychological trauma, and how parents, social workers, police officers, attorneys, and judges view children’s statements.
Willemsen, Kayleen A. and Roberts, Kim P., "Children's cognitive processing of abuse as described in investigative interviews." (2014). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1652.