The Gordon County Child Advocacy Center provides forensic investigative services upon referral from Gordon County law enforcement, the Gordon County Division of Family and Children Services, and the Gordon County DA’s Office. Forensic interview services may be provided for investigative agencies from other counties as needed. Forensic interview services are provided to children 3 to 18 years of age, and may also be provided to adults with developmental challenges who are suspected of being abused or exploited. Forensic interviews are provided for suspected cases of child sexual abuse or exploitation, physical abuse, and exposure to a violent crime. If you suspect a child has been abused, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Division of Family and Children Services.
Because most abuse is not witnessed by others, and because most perpetrators of abuse will deny the abuse, the child’s statement about his or her experiences is a critical part of any investigation of abuse. For this reason, among others, it is imperative that the child be interviewed in a manner that is objective and non-leading, and conducted by someone with specialized training in investigative, forensic interviewing of children. Forensic interviews at the GCCAC are conducted by our forensic interviewers who have had at least 40 hours of specialized training on how to properly question children. The forensic interviewers routinely participate in monthly peer review meetings to continually develop their skills.
A forensic interview is a neutral, developmentally, and culturally appropriate conversation with a child that is fact finding in nature. The purposes of a forensic interview are:
- To obtain information from a child that may be helpful in a criminal investigation;
- To assess the safety of the child;
- To obtain information for law enforcement and child protective services to use to either support or refute allegations of child maltreatment; and
- To assess the medical and mental health needs of the child.
As one of the goals of the forensic interview is to assess whether or not a crime as occurred, the results of the interview are documented in such a way that they can stand up under judicial scrutiny. Each forensic interview is digitally recorded and is observed by involved investigative team members from a separate observation room. In an effort to promote trust between the child and interviewer, the forensic interviewer informs the child, when developmentally appropriate, that the forensic interview is being recorded.
Upon completion of the forensic interview or evaluation, the multidisciplinary team makes recommendations regarding the child’s need for medical and mental health treatment.
Forensic interviews are provided at no charge.