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Building Compassionate Expertise in Child Abuse Investigations

students who became certified in protocolInstructors from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences played a vital role in training 30 professionals who deal with child abuse in forensic interview techniques. The ChildFirst® Forensic Interview Protocol is taught as a part of the Child Advocacy Studies Certificate Program (CAST) at Wilmington University.

Held on the Dover campus, the training is a rigorous, week-long course that covers child development, memory and suggestibility, testifying in court, and legal issues to prepare professionals for interviewing children.

“You want to question children in a way that doesn’t further traumatize their abuse or neglect,” says Rosalie Morales, an adjunct instructor in the CAST program at WilmU and organizer of the event.

The course consists of lectures and discussion, reading assignments, review of electronically recorded interviews, skill-building exercises, and a practicum in which each participant conducts a mock forensic interview with an actor and participates in as many as 10 interviews as a peer reviewer. Each student must pass a written examination to earn a course certificate. Trainees included law enforcement professionals on the state, county, and municipal level from throughout Delaware, who frequently are the first responders in child abuse investigations.

“It’s a multi-disciplinary approach to training, everyone in the same room, hearing the same information,” says Attorney Susan Purcell, the CAST program coordinator.

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