Assessing emotional distress in abused children during videotaped investigative interviews: The effect of risk and protective factors
AuthorHall, Susan Rebecca
AdvisorBecker, Judith V.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractSocial science research shows that many maltreated children suffer adverse psychological consequences, but less evidence exists to identify which children may be more or less at risk for such effects. In addition, some negative effects may be compounded when abused children interact with the criminal justice system. While public policies and procedures have been modified to address these issues (e.g., courtroom accommodations), little research has assessed which children would benefit most from them. To fill these needs, the present study: (a) tested the concurrent criterion validity of a new clinical-forensic assessment tool, the Videotaped Interview Trauma Assessment List (VITAL), a behavioral observation instrument that, when fully validated, can be used with other methods to assess emotional distress, risk/protective factors, and need for courtroom accommodations in allegedly abused children, and (b) assessed how risk and protective factors affected allegedly abused children's emotions and behaviors during actual investigative interviews. The results from the present study lend support to the concurrent criterion validity of the VITAL, because it functionally measured the children's existing emotional state and assessed the impact of interviewers' questions/statements on children's emotions/behaviors. Results were consistent with prior research on investigative interviewing and risk/protective factors. Specifically, the investigative interviews were generally an uncomfortable experience for the children; however, the presence of one or more sources of social support resulted in statistically significantly lower internalizing ratings (i.e., sadness, anxiety, embarrassment, withdrawal). Similarly, non-offending parental support tended to result in lower internalizing and depression ratings. While ratings of children's internalizing or externalizing emotions/behaviors were not affected by the majority of risk factors proposed in prior research (i.e., higher frequency of abuse, threat or use of force, closer relationship between the alleged abuser and the child, higher degree of intrusiveness of sexual abuse, less time in rapport, and family dysfunction), some trends were indicated (e.g., longest duration of alleged abuse tended to result in the most externalizing behavior, higher number of investigative interviews tended to result in higher internalizing and lower positive ratings). Future validity research on the VITAL is recommended because behavioral instruments are virtually absent in psycho-legal child maltreatment research and practice.
Degree ProgramGraduate College