Reducing the number of child witness and victim interviews has several benefits. This
practice is becoming standard at child advocacy centers across the country.242 State statutes should
adopt this practice. Alaska provides an ideal statute on the number of interviews of a child witness
or victim because it specifies who conducts the interview and where it takes place. Suggestion
number one is modeled after the Alaskan statute:
Interviews of children under the age 18 shall be conducted by a competent
interviewer trained in the area of child abuse and neglect. Interviews shall take
place at a child advocacy center whenever possible, and be videotaped to reduce
the need for multiple interviews. Finally, the number of interviews should be
minimized to reduce the possibility of revictimization and psychological trauma to
Under current practice, child witnesses and victims can be interviewed as many as twelve
times during the investigation and court process by multiple agencies. This does not include the
number of times they must tell their story to family and friends.244 Repeating traumatizing events,
multiple times, over a series of months, constantly reminds children of their victimization and
increases the chances of long-term emotional trauma, self-blame, and feelings of guilt, particularly
when they fear angering a family member who is their abuser or is close to their abuser.245
Children who are asked the same questions multiple times are more likely to change their
responses in an attempt to please the adult interviewer.246 This can result in inaccurate information
being given during several interviews and the reinforcement of false memories.247 Fortunately, an
increasing number of jurisdictions are opening child advocacy centers, staffed by multidisciplinary
teams of child maltreatment specialists and professionals.248 Through multidisciplinary teams, all
essential agencies (prosecution, law enforcement, social services) are able to listen to the child’s
statement, usually through a separate room where they have a direct headset feed with the child
interviewer.249 This decreases the need for unnecessary and repeated interviewing sessions.
B. Speedy Trials
Priority for cases involving child victims or witnesses is not widely recognized in state
legislation. Moreover, judges often interpret these statutes to mean that proceedings must be
expedited after the trial date is set, and not in any pre-trial activities.250 Some jurisdictions, despite
having priority provisions for juvenile cases, have difficulty giving docket priority due to the high
volume of court cases. Studies show that children who spend longer periods of time in the legal
243ALASKA STAT. ANN. § 47. 17.033 (West 2015).
244CECI & BRUCK, supra note 6, at 107.
245Saywitz et al., supra note 4, at 359.
246CECI & BRUCK, supra note 6, at 113.
247Id. at 109.
248Saywitz et al., supra note 4, at 364.
249Amy Russell, Forensic Interview Room Set-up, HALF A NATION: THE NEWSLE TTER OF THE STATE & NAT’L FINDING
WORDS COURSES 3 (2004).
250HALL & SALES, supra note 15, at 30.