Forensic Interview Techniques in Child Sexual Abuse Cases: A Scoping Review

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2023 Jun 5;15248380231177317. doi: 10.1177/15248380231177317. Online ahead of print.


Child sexual abuse (CSA) is widely recognized as a global public health problem with negative consequences for victims, their families, and society. The child's testimony is essential to the case outcome, given the frequent absence of physical or biological evidence of the abusive acts. Thus, the child forensic interview plays a decisive role in criminal investigation. The present scoping review aims to identify and describe the judicial procedures for collecting CSA victims' testimony using an evidence-based approach and a structured methodology. The review followed Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis-Scoping Review guidelines. Studies were identified through manual reference checking and in four electronic databases: PsycARTICLES, PubMed, SCOPUS, and Web of Science. In all, 146 studies were identified according to the defined inclusion criteria, that is, empirical studies identifying judicial procedures to collect CSA victims' testimony, published in English or Portuguese. In total, 30 different forensic interview procedures to collect the child victim's testimony were found. The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development investigative interview protocol was the most frequently mentioned. Despite the variety of protocols, it was possible to conclude that they have a similar general structure. This review also identified gaps in interviewing practices with CSA victims. The scoping review corroborates the importance of forensic interviews with CSA victims, stating its implications for criminal investigation, the legal system, and the child's recovery process.

Keywords: child sexual abuse; forensic interview; scoping review; testimony; victims.

Publication types

  • Review