What is a forensic interview?
A forensic interview is a non-biased, court defensible fact-finding interview done at the request of law enforcement or child protective services. Forensic interviews are conducted by specially trained interviewers employed by the Mary Abbott Children's House. Abbott House's interviewers are highly experienced and maintain a victim-centered, child-friendly atmosphere in which a child can tell his or her story.
What is the purpose of an interview?
Without the forensic interview approach, various agencies involved in the investigation of a case of child abuse would need to conduct separate interviews to gather the information they need. Repeated interviewing would inevitably cause child victims to repeat the details of their abuse situation over and over, compounding initial trauma. The purpose of a forensic interview is to minimize the number of times children must tell their stories, and the multidisciplinary approach used at Abbott House encourages all agencies involved in the investigation of abuse, such as law enforcement, child protective services, the district attorney's office, and medical and mental health professionals, to work together.
Who is interviewed at Abbott House?
As a nationally certified Children's Advocacy Center, Abbott House interviews only children under the age of 18. Interviews must be requested by law enforcement agencies or child protective services. Cleveland, Garvin, and McClain Counties comprise Abbott House's official jurisdiction, judicial district 21, but Abbott House is authorized to serve any judicial district in Oklahoma in which a Children's Advocacy Center does not exist. In 2012, Abbott House served children in 19 Oklahoma counties.
What is a medical assessment?
A medical assessment is a simple, child-friendly process that looks at general health factors such as height and weight, vital signs, and an overall view of the child’s body. In certain situations, forensic evidence is collected to aid investigators.
Why might a medical assessment be offered to a child?
To refer a child for further medical treatment or mental health needs.
To reassure a parent and a child about medical concerns and to inform them about further resources.
To assess a child for injuries or to photograph present injuries.
To collect forensic evidence that may be used in an investigation.
What is NOT part of the medical assessment?
We do not provide any medications or provide a medical diagnosis for any conditions.
We do not test for sexually transmitted diseases.
We do not give any injections or draw blood.
Abbott House offers general educational programs on Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Preventing Child Abuse (for Organizations or Parents and Individuals).
The objectives of our Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse program are for attendees to gain an understanding of:
The definitions of child abuse and how to recognize the signs of abuse.
What to do and what not to do when a child discloses abuse.
When and how to report child abuse.
The facts and realities of child abuse.
The mission and function of Abbott House as a nationally accredited Children's Advocacy Center.
The various members of Cleveland County's multidisciplinary team and their respective roles before, during, and after an investigation.
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