Interviewing Child Victims with Disabilities

Studies have long established that children with disabilities are disproportionately criminally victimized. Specifically, the rate of violence experienced by children with disabilities is almost triple the rate compared to children without disabilities. Children and youth with disabilities are more likely than children and youth without disabilities to experience physical abuse resulting in bodily injury and to experience serious sexual offenses including those involving repeated abuse, use of force and threats. Research studies consistently report that there is a very high rate of sexual violence against children with physical and intellectual disabilities, as well as, those with significant speech and or communication disabilities. Furthermore, the risk of sexual violence appears to increase with the degree of disability. There are a number of factors related to children with disabilities susceptibility to interactions with the criminal justice system. In addition to these factors, many significant barriers exist, both real and perceived, that limit investigation and prosecution of these cases. Understanding and communicating effectively with children with disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system are necessary skills for child protective services, law enforcement, children's advocacy center staff, and other social service personnel. The participants in this training will develop a broader understanding of children with disabilities as well as new strategies for effective interviewing and communicating. Video clips of real individuals with disabilities are integrated into the presentation to maximize the effectiveness of the training.

Learning Objectives:
Objective 1: Participants will be able to describe the unique characteristics of individuals with intellectual, physical, and communication disabilities that increase the risk of abuse.
Objective 2: Participants will demonstrate an understanding of verbal communication in the context of communicating with and interviewing children with disabilities.
Objective 3: Participants will be able to recall specific interview techniques for use in the investigative and legal environments to optimize communication with children with disabilities.
Objective 4: Participants will practice specific interviewing skills to effectively interview child victims with disabilities.