FOR THE LITIGATOR
In the past year, academic studies have criticized a perceived lack of expertise in Canada in the area of child interviewing by Social Workers and Investigators. Protocols have been developed by academics and experts internationally that have, in studies, been shown to more regularly produce a higher caliber of credible statements from child interviewees (ie the NICHD protocol). These protocols are not regularly taught, nor reviewed in Ontario. In contrast, they are utilized in Quebec.
In their Article “Sexual Abuse and Preschoolers: Forensic details in regard of question types,” published in Child Abuse and Neglect, The International Journal (May 2017) 109-118, professors Karine Gagnon and Mireille Cyr, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal, completed a study of the interview of over 1500 children ages 3-5 years, studying the quality and quantity of disclosures made by interviewees in response to 5 different types of questions:
1. Invitations (i.e. “Tell me everything that happened form the beginning to the end”), including “General Invitations” (i.e. “Tell me more about that”); “Cued Invitations” (i.e. “You mentioned his hand on your bell, tell me more about that”); and “Time Segmentation Invitation” (i.e. “Tell me everything that happens form the time he enters your room until he touches you”)
2. Directive Questioning (i.e. “Who, what, when, where, and how), including “Closed-ended Directive Questioning” (i.e. “You mentioned you were at home – where exactly were you?”); and “Open Ended Directive Questioning” (i.e. “How did he touch you?”)
3. Option-posing Questioning (i.e. “Did it happen in the morning, afternoon or night?” or “Was he tall” – singular questions that suggest a limitation of potential responses)
4. Suggestive Questioning (i.e. “He forced you, didn’t he” or “Tell me everything that happens when you’re on the bed” where the child has not mentioned he was there before in the interview), the studies being unanimous that these forms of questions, even leading into types 1-3 should not be used in interviews or questioning.
In addition to highlighting the importance of following an academically-approved protocol so as to avoid interviewer error, this article is of value to the Child Protection Litigator that is examining the admissibility of child hearsay either on an interim basis that permits evidentiary qualification on the basis of credibility and trustworthiness, or at the trial level dealing with reliability branch of the Khan analysis.
The study concludes that by using significantly fewer suggestive questions, and more directive questions as opposed to option-posing questions, investigators demonstrated a style of questioning that was associated with obtaining more accurate and productive reports of events among preschoolers. The NICHD protocol in particular promoted the minimization of closed-ended questions, the avoidance of suggestive questions, and the use of up to three-times more open-ended questions than in non-NICHD protocol interviews.
The fact that Invitations yielded significantly more details and more reliable disclosures than other forms of questioning aligns with other studies, with Directive Questions coming second and in preferential status to Option-Posing and suggestive questions. This also aligned with other studies’ conclusions.
As noted, an awareness of this study may be helpful to Child Protection lawyers as they study transcripts and view interviews of children. They highlight the importance at Interim Care Proceedings of drawing judicial attention to any failure in the Society’s materials to indicate exactly what questions, and what types of questions were put to children in the course of interviewing them. This should also be an area of attention over the process of studying disclosure, with equal attention being paid to classifying the type of each question asked of a child, as one would pay attention to the manner of giving, and substance rendered in a response.
The interviewing of children is a difficult task, requiring study and training. The OACPL would recommend that increased attention be given to this skill-set both in the course of training Social Workers, and in educating Child Protection Lawyers.
Any OACPL members that would like a copy of the Report summarized above may request one by email to , providing a fax number for delivery.
We hope you're all staying warm, dry and healthy!
We intended to get the link to the Child Protection Conference videos posted last week, but the flu hit our team hard and we got derailed. We apologize for the delay!
To watch the individual presentations, go to www.oacpl.org and click on the red banner. That will take you to the OACPL YouTube page. Then simply click on the presentation you want to watch.
As a reminder, if you participated in the Conference, the CPD allotment was 1.25 hours Professionalism and 6 hours Substantive.
If you haven't received a receipt for your Conference payment and would like to have one, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE THE DATE!
Please mark November 23 and 24 on your calendar. The OACPL is hosting "Advanced Issues in Child Protection" at the University of Windsor. We'll keep you posted as more information becomes available. We'd love to see you there! We're always looking for volunteers, so if you're interested in helping plan and organize the conference, please let us know!
Thanks for supporting the Ontario Association of Child Protection Lawyers. As always, if you have any ideas, questions or comments, send us an email at email@example.com.
Thank you for registering for the Ontario Association of Child Protection Lawyers (OACPL) “2018 Developments in Child Protection Conference” coming up this Friday, February 2.
Attached, you’ll find the agenda, a parking map and the materials you’ll need for the conference. IMPORTANT: Please print and bring these materials with you to the conference or save them to a personal computer/tablet and bring it with you. Hard copies will NOT be provided.
Below are some details for those attending in person and those attending via webcast.
Carnegie Room (lower level)
St. Thomas Public Library
9:30am – 5pm
Lunch is provided
Parking passes are available for the City Hall lot, City Centre Lot, Catherine Street lot and the Justice Building Lot. Please see attached map for lot locations. Park in one of the lots and then come to the Carnegie Room in the library to obtain your pass.
$20 at the door unless payment has already been provided via cheque or e-transfer.
VIEWING VIA WEBCAST
In order for us to monitor the live stream, please respond to this email and indicate the location from which you’ll be watching and how many people will be watching. Please also include a contact name and phone number – preferably a cell phone number that receives texts so if there are any issues during the webcast, you can reach the webcast technician and she can reach you.
If you need technical assistance during the webcast, please text Meagan at (519) 791-7072. Please DO NOT call this number as Meagan will be in the conference running the webcast. Text is the best and only way to receive assistance.
Go to www.oacpl.org
On the homepage is a link to the OACPL YouTube Channel. Click on this link. It will take you directly to the webcast.
Alternately, if you have trouble accessing the webcast via www.oacpl.org, click on this link:
The webcast will be live streamed via YouTube. You can click on the link above to test your ability to connect. Some offices may have restrictions for accessing YouTube. If this is the case, you'll need to talk to IT within your organization to gain access for the purposes of this webcast.
The live stream will begin around 9:25am.
Please make sure your computer is connected to the internet either by WiFi or by ethernet (ethernet is more reliable if you have that option) and that your computer speakers are unmuted with the volume turned up.
For the best audio quality, it is recommended that you connect external speakers to your computer or listen with headphones. However, if neither are available, your computer’s internal speakers will work fine.
If you haven’t already e-transferred your payment, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you prefer to pay by cheque, please make it out to David Sandor and mail it to:
PO Box 33010
Thanks for being a part of OACPL’s inaugural conference. We look forward to your participation!