What to Expect from a Child Interview

Who will talk to my child?

Your child will be talking to a Child Interview Specialist. The Interviewer is specially trained in evidence-based interviewing techniques that allow children to talk about what might have happened when there are concerns that a crime may have occurred. The interviews are meant to be child-friendly in all ways - from the look of the interview room to the interviewer's efforts to match the talking pace of your child.

Your child will never be forced to talk and is allowed to take breaks or end the interview at any time.

Feel free to share with the detective or advocate any information that you think the interviewer should have about your child, including any language delays or fears about the interview.

How can I help my child before the interview?

Let your child know that other kids come to talk with the interviewer and that it is the interviewer’s job to listen to kids.  Give your child permission to talk to the interviewer about anything that might have happened to them. Assure them that you will be nearby and available if they need you. Tell them that they are not in any trouble, and remind them of the importance to tell the truth.

You might tell your child, “I’m going to take you to see someone who talks to kids. They talk to kids about all sorts of things that might have happened to them. You are not in trouble. It’s okay to tell everything that’s happened. It’s always important that you tell the truth.” 

When should I tell my child about the interview?

As the parent or guardian you are the best judge as to when to tell your child that they will be going to an interview. In general, telling your child a day before the interview ‐ or even on the way to the interview ‐ allows enough time so that the interview is not a surprise but does not cause your child a great deal of anxiety. An advocate is available to talk with you before the interview to answer any questions or concerns.

Can my child bring food or toys into the interview?

Most kids have a limited attention span and toys and food can distract children from speaking with the interviewer. Remind your child that the purpose of the meetng is to talk (not play) with the interviewer. Feeding your child before the interview is recommended. 

Can I watch the interview?

No. The people who watch the interview are the detectve and sometmes a social worker. Children need to be able to talk in a place that is as neutral as possible and having a parent or guardian in the room or witnessing the interview makes that more difficult. Additionally, parents and/or guardians are often witnesses in potential legal cases and your testimony may be compromised by watching the child interview. The interview is recorded on video.

How long will the interview last? What happens when the interview is over?

The length of the interview will be shaped by your child ‐ by their attention span, their pacing, and how much they have to say.  Most interviews last approximately 45 ‐ 60 minutes. After the interview the detectve can tell you in general terms what was learned and can answer your questions about the investigation.

How can I help my child after the interview?

Thank your child for talking to the interviewer and listen to them if they choose to talk about the interview. It’s important not to pressure your child to talk about the interview.

Assure your child of your love and support no matter what they said during the interview. 

Tell your child that it is not their fault if something happened to them and that there are people who are going to help them.

What about Counseling?

Children and teens may struggle with confusion, worries and other intense emotions related to the abuse. Counseling can help children and teens to process these thoughts and feelings and to develop a healthy and empowering way to understand and cope with the memory of the abuse. You might tell your child "Even though your body is safe now, kids sometimes have worries or fears about what happened that won't go away. A counselor can help with your worries and fears."

Directions to Interview:

Interviews are held at one of two locatons in Medicine Hat. Your detective will let you know where to go for your child’s interview. The following addresses will assist you in the location of the interview.

Medicine Hat Police Service 884 2 Street SE, Medicine Hat, AB T1A 8H2

Southern Alberta Child & Family Services 201-346 3rd Street SE, Medicine Hat, AB T1A 2B8

Related Files

Brochure - What to expect from a child interview