Problems with Evaluation of Child
to Be Anticipated
psychological evaluation must be conducted
under the direction of a child psychiatrist or a child
All too often, such evaluations are conducted by undirected or
social workers and problems arise. They arise because the
and training specifically in interviewing children for sexual abuse is
generally quite deficient:
The evaluator may be unable to determine whether sexual abuse occurred. A number of reasons might explain this outcome, including contamination by too many evaluations, particularly biased or leading questions, or even the age of the child -- that is, the child may be too young to verbalize what occurred.
Although not specifically mentioned in
one must look at the alleged offense and see whether the allegations of
that offense actually happened and are credible--whether what was said
actually happened and by whom it was said and whether they are
In other words, is the act which was alleged to have been done an act
fits into the pattern of what sex offenders do? Do the
fit those patterns? Patterns of
The psychological examination must also
the history of the suspected abusive parent relative to violence or
advantage of a child and so forth.
of these evaluation process is important because the simple
on the face of the interviewer and/or the comments that the interviewer
makes are positive reinforcement:
"That"s a good girl."
"Do you recall . . . ?"
"Don't you feel better now?"
Positive reinforcement can be letting that child know the kinds of things that the interviewer is looking for.
If an interviewer started the evaluation assuming that abuse occurred rather than with a completely clean, unbiased slate, then the interviewer inevitably accepted all the statements of the child as validations of what that person had assumed was true before the intgerview began.
By the time the interview was over -- given the interviewer's bias and the positive reinforcement the child received -- the child had been taught to say exactly what the interviewer wanted to hear the child say.And in the absence of a video recording or at least an audio, an independent evaluator cannot evaluate how good that interview was.