Interviewing young offenders about child-on-child sexual abuse

Irit Hershkowitz, Michael E. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study compared two versions of the NICHD Protocol for interviewing young suspected sexual offenders: the Revised Suspect Protocol (RSP) and the Standard Suspect Protocol (SSP). The RSP incorporated relevant evidence-based practices informed by research on the value of (a) effectively explaining the suspects' rights, (b) rapport building and support, and (c) appropriate questioning strategies. Interviewers using the RSP communicated the children's rights more effectively (reading them more often, checking, verifying, and correcting understanding) and provided more support. In the substantive phase, they remained supportive while recall prompts dominated the questioning. Compared to children in the SSP group, children in the RSP condition understood their rights better, were more responsive during rapport-building, and reacted to interviewer support in the substantive phase with increased responsiveness, which in turn, predicted reduced reluctance, increased emotional expression, and greater informativeness. They were also more likely to make full rather than partial confessions than children in the SSP group. Full confessions were positively predicted by the appropriate communication of legal rights, interviewer support, and reliance on open-ended prompts, thereby confirming the superiority of the RSP relative to the SSP.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Early online date12 Apr 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • child abuse
  • forensic interviewing
  • rapport
  • sexual behavior problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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