Most child forensic interviewing protocols recommend that interviewers administer a series of ground rules to emphasize concepts that are important to accurately answering interview questions. Limited research has examined whether interviewers follow ground rules recommendations in real-world forensic interviews. In this study, we examined how often highly trained interviewers presented and practiced each of the recommended ground rules. We also examined whether children accurately responded to practice questions. We coded transcripts from 241 forensic interviews of 4- to 12-year-old children conducted by interviewers in the United States who were largely trained using the Ten Step Investigative Interview (Lyon, 2014). Results demonstrated that interviewers routinely presented and practiced the ground rules, but this significantly varied by children’s age. Additionally, children often accurately responded to practice questions, but younger children were less accurate than older children. Taken together, results highlight that interviewers may deviate from ground rules recommendations based on the characteristics of the child which has implications for both future research and practice.
Child Psychology | Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Developmental Psychology | Evidence | Family Law | Juvenile Law | Law | Law and Psychology
Date of this Version
Melanie Fessinger, Kelly McWilliams, Faizun N. Bakth, and Thomas D. Lyon, "Setting the ground rules: Use and practice of ground rules in child forensic interviews" (February 2020). University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series. Working Paper 313.