Protecting the children

Program trains detectives to help child victims find the words to describe their abuse

     Demand for the program was so great that the NCPCA set a goal to train half the nation by 2010. Of the 25 sought-after states, so far South Carolina, New Jersey, Indiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland have joined the program, while many other states have applied to be part of the three-year program.

     Professionals must submit applications as a team. Since prosecution of this type involves a team of people (a detective, prosecutor, child protection worker and forensic interviewers), Finding Words wants the entire team to apply. Investigators are trained in child development and how to phrase questions so that evidence can be found, while protecting the child's statements so they hold up in court. Prosecutors learn child sexual abuse cases can only be successfully built through a systematic team approach, because forensic interviewing must be both prosecution-and protection-focused. In addition, teams must determine together whether an incident will be prosecuted as a civil or criminal case.

     Those trained by Finding Words are qualified as expert witnesses since the seminar is based on years of research, reliable principals and sound methods. In Georgia, the appellate court rejected a defense claim that a deputy sheriff trained though Finding Words was insufficiently prepared to conduct a forensic interview. The court found the investigator, having taken a course specializing in interviewing child abuse victims, employed a known method. North Carolina judges concluded that Finding Words was the "'gold standard' for training in forensic interviewing."

     To start programs in your state, contact Grant Bauer by phone at (703) 549-4253 or by e-mail at

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