Tell your child that they will be meeting with someone who is a specialist (or you pick the word that will best relate to your child, i.e., a counselor, an interviewer, a helper, a special child person, etc.) in talking to children about very difficult things. Sometimes parents will designate this person as a friend of the Investigator who has opened the case (CPS or Police) if the child has had a good connection with that investigator. Tell your child that even though they’ve told things to you (or to someone else), it’s important that the information is given to the child protection people.
Give your child enough notice so that they don’t feel it’s a surprise to them but also don’t give them too long a time period to worry about what they may have to do. Usually a day or two is enough time to feel comfortable with this appointment.
Tell them that you honestly don’t know exactly what will be asked but that you have every confidence in them that they’ll be honest and that the person will make them feel comfortable during the talk. Assure them that this person is a VERY child-friendly person whose job it is to talk to kids about difficult things. Tell them you want him/her to answer all the questions the best they can and to tell the truth.
Give the child permission to talk about what they have disclosed. Be general in what you tell the child (i.e. “It’s okay to tell the interviewer what you told me (or whomever they told) 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.
Tell your child that you might not know what questions to ask and how to ask them. And also tell them that because you love them so much, sometimes parents ask the kinds of questions that are about feelings instead of about the facts, which is why this special interviewer needs to do the asking. Assure them that they are not in any trouble and in fact; are doing what every citizen should always do- which is to tell someone when someone else has done something wrong.
Assure your child that while they are talking to the interviewer, that you’ll be in the next-door room talking to someone else getting information on how to make sure they will stay safe.
You can certainly ask about how things went but don’t press them for specifics. The whole point of this interview is that the child doesn’t have to keep repeating the discomforting details. Asking things like what the room was like and if the interviewer was nice are perfectly comfortable questions. It shows that you are interested in their experience but respect they may be uncomfortable about giving you too many details.
This is unlikely- children are very protective of their parents and caregivers, which is why they are reluctant to talk about such sensitive things in the first place. BUT if your child appears to want to talk more to you, then certainly be a good listener. Be careful to not react in a way that makes your child feel guilty (i.e. “Why did you do that?”) or make them feel ashamed (i.e. “You should not have gone there.”). Let them say what they have to say and thank them again for their honesty. If you feel disturbed by what they say, please call us and we’ll help you process the information.
Most children feel relieved that they’ve been able to finally get their “secret” out, so they may actually show signs of relief. They may seem like their normal selves and want to play or do an activity that is fun. Some children may show feelings, such as sadness or fear about the circumstance, especially if their perpetrator is a family member or someone who was trusted by the child.
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