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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the MDIT process in Armstrong County?MDIT stands for Multi-disciplinary Investigative Team. It is a coordinated effort, provided in a child-friendly setting where children may safely talk about what has happened. We begin with a forensic interview observed by our investigative team which may include representatives from the District Attorney's Office, law enforcement, and Children, Youth and Family Services if they are involved. We may have other team members including specialized interviewers, victim advocates, social workers, medical practitioners, school personnel, and social service providers involved but they are not permitted to observe the forensic interview.
What is a Forensic Interview?A Forensic Interview is a process where a trained, certified professional called a "forensic interviewer" will talk with children when there has been a report to Children, Youth, and Family Services and/or law enforcement that a child may have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse or when a child may have witnessed a violent crime. They ask neutral, fact-finding questions in a developmentally and culturally appropriate manner. The interview will be video- and audio-recorded and the original copy of the video will be securely maintained at the District Attorney's Office.
Should I prepare my child for this interview?Children are most comfortable when they know what to expect. Explain to your child that he or she will be meeting with someone whose job it is to talk with children, and that they talk with lots of children about things happening in their lives. It is important that you do NOT tell your child what to say. Reassure your child that he or she is not in trouble and they have done nothing wrong. Only the forensic interviewer will speak with your child, other investigative team members will observe the interview.
May I talk to my child about what happened?It is important that you do not initiate conversation about the alleged abuse. If the child brings up the subject of abuse, please listen to them, do not ask questions or even make comments. Thank them for talking with you, reassure them that you believe them and will support them. Learning that your child may have been abused can be overwhelming and being upset or angry is perfectly understandable. However, the most helpful response for your child is for you to be calm and reassuring because children often feel embarrassed or guilty about the abuse and may interpret your anxiety as you being angry with them. It is best to find another adult to talk to about your fears and concerns, outside of your child's presence.
May I stay with my child during the interview?It is important that the interviewer talk with your child alone. It is often difficult for children to talk about abuse they may have experienced and difficult for parents to hear it. Having a parent in the room may distract or inhibit children during the interview. Children may also want to have the parent answer questions for them, but it is very important that the child provide information independently in their own words. Rest assured, with your encouragement, most children are comfortable separating from you and talking with the interviewer. You are always close-by!
May I sit with the team during the interview?While we understand that you may wish to observe the interview, in order to maintain neutrality and the integrity of the investigation, only members of the investigative team are permitted to observe. The investigators need to carefully observe, assess and document the interview. They would be unavailable to respond to your immediate concerns or questions at the time. The interview is conducted with only the child and the certified forensic interviewer in the room. You will have the opportunity to speak with the investigative team after the interview. They will update you and provide an opportunity to ask any questions.
What do I do if a child discloses alleged child abuse to me?Try to stay calm, listen non-judgmentally, believe them, and reassure them that you are there to help and it's important to you that they are safe. Don't make false promises like "I promise I won't tell." Please don't ask probing questions. Listen and REPORT: - PA Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-932-0313 - Armstrong County Children and Youth 724-548-3466 Information you can provide: When making a report of suspected child abuse or general child well-being concerns, it is important to provide as much information as possible. The below list will give you a general idea of what information you will be asked for: - name and physical description of the child - age or approximate age range of the child - name, home address, and telephone number of a legal guardian or parent of the child - home address and telephone number of suspected child abuse perpetrator - suspected perpetrator's relationship to the child - description of the suspected injury to the child - where the incident took place - any concern for the child's immediate safety - your relationship to the child - your contact information, although you may report anonymously if you are a permissive reporter. Resource: PA DHS website for reporting child abuse
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