What can I expect when I take my child to the CJC?

Upon arriving at the CJC you will be greeted by a CJC staff member and asked to wait in a living room area where there will be toys, books and snacks on hand for you and your child’s comfort. Shortly after this a child protective services worker and/or detective will meet with you briefly and then take your child back to a child friendly interview room to be interviewed. You will be asked to wait in the living room while your child is interviewed. The CJC coordinator will give you a resource packet of information explaining the criminal justice process and will answer any questions that you have. You will be given information that will help you get connected with counselors in the area if you are interested in getting mental health services for your child. After the interview is over the detective and case worker will let you know what their next steps are going to be in investigating the case. They may recommend that your child have a medical exam, counseling etc. This is a good time to raise any concerns you have or to ask any questions.

Will I be able to sit in the room with my child while he/she is being interviewed?

It has been our experience that many parents have great difficulty containing their emotions when they hear their children disclose abuse. Some children may feel uncomfortable and/or reluctant to disclose abuse in front of their parents because they are embarrassed or do not want to upset them or cause them pain. Some children may feel they will be in trouble with their parents if they disclose sexual abuse. Also, if a parent witnesses a child’s disclosure they would automatically become a witness in a court case and may be asked to testify. Lastly, there have been occasions where children have disclosed abuse by the same parent that has accompanied them to the CJC. This disclosure may not have anything to do with the original allegation. Due to all of these factors it is not considered best practice to have parents accompany their child into the interview room. In cases where children are very young and refuse to be interviewed without a parent in the room an exception may be made at the discretion of the CPS worker and the detective handling the case. In this instance the parent would be instructed not to speak in the interview, cry, gasp or make other types of noises in the interview room. The parent will not be allowed to ask the child any questions as this could be considered "coaching" or leading. Failure to comply with these instructions could result in the county attorney declining to prosecute the case.

What happens if my child is afraid or is too shy to talk to the investigators at the CJC.

Unfortunately this does happen. If children don’t disclose information at the CJC it is very difficult for the case to proceed forward. This is because parents and therapists are considered third parties and their testimony is not admissible in court. It is required that your child disclose the information to someone who is excluded from the hearsay rule. Those excluded from this rule are nurses, doctors, detectives and case workers. Sometimes if a child does not disclose but the parent has grave concerns that their child is being victimized it is best to get the child in to see a counselor who can work with the child over time. If the child then begins disclosing information, the counselor can call in another report and your child can be interviewed at the CJC again when they feel more comfortable talking about the abuse.