U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Do Best Practice Interviews with Child Abuse Victims Influence Case Processing?

NCJ Number
Date Published
123 pages
This study examined the effects of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD‘s) protocol for interviewing suspected child victims of abuse on case outcomes.

The study found that charges were significantly more likely to be filed for cases that involved NICHD protocol interviews than pre-protocol interviews. An interaction between age and interview condition indicated that the strongest effect of the protocol was for the 7- to 9-year-old children, with 22 percent more cases with charges filed for this age group compared to pre-protocol interviews. Once charged, final disposition of the cases based on protocol and pre-protocol interviews were both highly and similarly likely to be resolved in a guilty plea to one or more counts as charged or to a reduced plea. The effects of the introduction of the NICHD structured protocol on case outcomes reported here provide the strongest possible endorsement of this approach to interviewing. The 1,280 cases examined involved children between 2.8 to 13.97 years of age and included 729 cases in which interviews were conducted by police detectives following extensive training in the use of the NICHD protocol (1997-2000), as well as 551 cases in which interviews were conducted by the same police detectives prior to NICHD training (pre-protocol, 1994-2000). Case and outcome information was coded based on all available sources of information (child protection and police reports, intake forms, and the children’s Justice Center electronic database). 14 tables, appended supplementary tables, and 216 references

Date Published: January 1, 2008