NICHD Protocol

The most well-known and widely studied interviewer training system is the freely available NICHD Protocol developed by Lamb and colleagues (2000; 2007; 2008). It has been developed with reference to child development issues, including linguistic capabilities, memory, and suggestibility, forensic needs, interviewer behaviour, and the effects of stress and trauma by a team of researchers, interviewers, police officers, and legal professionals. The purpose of the protocol has been to operationalise the ‘consensus’ approach to interviewing children. It is important to emphasize that the team of researchers directly involved in the development of the NICHD Protocol have drawn from a robust literature focusing on children’s capabilities involving hundreds (if not thousands) of researchers worldwide concerned about issues surrounding interviewing child witnesses. More than a decade of research has shown that effective interviewer training can begin with the proper use of the NICHD Protocol because it helps interviewers (who often are not trained in issues about children memory and communication) to maximize the amount of information obtained using open-ended prompts. The NICHD Protocol requires that fewer focused questions be used and does not advocate the use of anatomical dolls and other risky techniques. The research involved in developing the NICHD Protocol has been described as ‘outstanding’ (Bull, 2010), and the approach to interview training described as the ‘gold standard’ (Brainerd & Reyna, 2005; Herman, 2009). The NICHD Protocol has been designed to ‘dovetail’ into existing interviewing systems and is referred to in numerous formalised interview guidelines throughout the world.

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La Rooy, D., Brubacher, S. P., Aromäki-Stratos, A., Cyr, M., Hershkowitz, I., Korkman, J., Myklebust, T., Naka, M., Peixoto, C. E., Robertsj  K. P., Stewart,H., & Lamb, M. E. (2015). The NICHD Protocol: A review of an internationally-used evidence-based tool for training child forensic interviewers. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice. 2, 76–89.

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