'Stand by me': The effect of emotional support on children's testimonies

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Many children who come into contact with the legal system following suspected maltreatment have difficulty disclosing the alleged abuse and providing rich and coherent testimonies. This study focuses on three interviews with alleged victims: two girls who were interviewed following reports of possible sexual abuse by their fathers and one boy who was interviewed following a report of possible sexual abuse by his mother. All the interviews were conducted by social workers trained in investigative interviewing techniques. The main aim of these case studies is to explore the effect of emotional, non-suggestive support on children's disclosure patterns and narratives during the forensic interview. These illustrative interviews emphasise the importance of employing emotional non-suggestive support in the forensic context, as this practice balances between the interests of the legal system and the best interests of the children involved. This balancing is a highly complicated task and represents social workers' contributions to the experiences of maltreated children in the legal system. The practical implications for social workers in the forensic context and other contexts are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-362
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Investigative interviews with children
  • child sexual abuse
  • disclosure
  • resistance
  • support

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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