only testify once or not at all.
17 The presence of large numbers of persons in the courtroom can
lead to feelings of withdrawal or avoidance, and the testimony itself can exacerbate Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD) and anxiety symptoms caused by the abusive incident(s).
18 Not only can
the number of interviews have a negative effect on the child, but so can the substance of, and
person conducting the interviews. The most common suggestion is to minimize the number of
interviews per potential abuse victim and have videotaped interviews conducted by an individual
trained in working with abuse victims.
19 This practice is supported by the American Academy of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Professional Society on the Abuse of
In the past, the average victim of sexual abuse would speak with approximately 2.3 persons
before being interviewed by a professional forensic interviewer.
21 The fear of re-victimization
from repeated retellings of an abusive incident was a reason behind the founding of the National
Children’s Advocacy Center in 1985. For the last thirty years, the National Children’s Advocacy
Center has aimed to “promote, and deliver excellence in child abuse response and prevention
through service, education, and leadership.”
22 A majority of states have formed child advocacy
centers (CACs) to facilitate multi-agency communication in cases of child abuse and neglect.
These centers also tend to be more child-centered and welcoming ( i.e. play rooms and bright
colored décor), as opposed to a police station or social work center.
CACs are typically equipped with child-friendly interview rooms, private viewing rooms
for other agencies, such as the prosecutor’s office, and video-recording capabilities. Video-recording and the presence of all team members allows the number of interviews with the child to
be minimized, which may decrease the amount of trauma and anxiety experienced from repeated
disclosures of abuse. There are instances where multiple interviews might be necessary, such as to
build rapport between the interviewer and the victim or to stop the interview if the child becomes
upset. When multiple interviews are conducted, the best practice is for the interview to be
conducted by the same person each time to increase the comfort level and amount of information
given by the child.
24 However, multiple interviews are not common in cases of child sexual abuse,
in order to decrease the amount of trauma from repeated disclosure.
Controversial cases, such as the Little Rascals Day Care case, demonstrate the
suggestibility of children who are subjected to multiple interviews.
26 In 1989, Bob Kelly, an owner
of the Little Rascals daycare center, was accused of child sexual abuse.
27 Interviews with multiple
children at the center were conducted, resulting in more allegations of abuse.
28 Many children
disclosed abuse only after parents and police officers questioned them multiple times, and some
17Lipovsky, supra note 11, at 241.
18Saywitz et al., supra note 4, at 360.
19KATHLEEN C. FALLER. INTERVIEWING CHILDREN ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE: CONTROVERSIES AND BEST PRACTICE 50-
51 (2007) [hereinafter FALLER].
20Id. at 50.
21Jon R. Conte et al., Evaluating Children’s Reports of Sexual Abuse: Results from a Survey of Professionals, 61 AM.
J. OF ORTHOPSYCHIATRY 428, 428 (1991).
22Mission Statement, NAT’L CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CTR., http://www.nationalcac.org/mission-statement/ mission.html (last visited Sept. 2, 2015).
23HALL & SALES, supra note 15, at 29.
24FALLER, supra note 19, at 52.
25Id. at 53.
26CECI & BRUCK, supra note 6, at 10.