Talking to a child who is a victim of sexual or physical abuse requires the professional, whether it is a child advocate, law enforcement or a lawyer, to be sensitive to the child while still getting factual information. This type of forensic interviewing was the topic of a recent training sponsored by H.A.V.E.N. Child Advocacy Center and the Evergreen Foundation. The 4-day forensic interview training was provided for agencies in Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties by CornerHouse a child advocacy center in Minnesota.

“CornerHouse developed the protocols and has been providing training for over 20 years. This evidenced based forensic interview training is considered to be the best available,” shared Chrystal Glenn, executive director of H.A.V.E.N.

The training focuses on putting the child first when conducting a forensic interview. The techniques taught are designed to elicit non-biased and accurate information while being attentive to the child’s needs. Training includes information on the different developmental stages of children and adolescents and how this impacts interviews and also when and how to use anatomically correct dolls in the process. The protocols used are forensically-sound and reduce further traumatizing the child.

Agencies participating included H.A.V.E.N., Clay County DSS, Cherokee County DSS, Graham County DSS, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department, Reach of Clay County, Smoky Mountain Mental Health, the District Attorney’s Office, and Cherokee County Schools. The 28 hour interactive training program leads to certification in forensic interviewing for participants.

“Having additional individuals trained in forensic interviewing provides a much better multi-disciplinary approach,” stated Glenn. “Being able to provide this training locally allows so many more staff to participate.”

To find out more about H.A.V.E.N. and services available to children who have experienced sexual or physical abuse, neglect, or those exposed to drugs or domestic violence call 828-837-5872.