Young children’s descriptions of sexual abuse are often sparse thus creating the need for techniques that elicit lengthier accounts. ‘Paraphrasing’, or repeating information children have just disclosed, is a technique sometimes used by forensic interviewers to clarify or elicit information. (e.g., if a child stated “He touched me”, an interviewer could respond “He touched you?”). However, the effects of paraphrasing have yet to be scientifically assessed. The impact of different paraphrasing styles on young children’s reports was investigated. Overall, paraphrasing per se did not improve the length, richness, or accuracy of reports when compared to open-ended prompts such as “tell me more,” but some styles of paraphrasing were more beneficial than others. The results provide clear recommendations for investigative interviewers about how to use paraphrasing appropriately, and which practices can compromise the quality of children’s reports.
Evans, A.E., & Roberts, K.P. (2009). Can paraphrasing increase the amount and accuracy of reports from child eyewitnesses?: A comparison of two techniques. Psychology, Crime, & Law, 6, 531-546. DOI: 10.1080/10683160802385398