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May 2000Vol. 1, No. 3Bilingual Resource for Child Molestation and Sexual Abuse Interviewers

Improve your child interviewing skills in the Latino community with the Child Molestation and Sexual Abuse Interviewer's Guide (Guía bilingüe para entrevistadores de menores víctimas de atentados al pudor y abuso deshonesto). Prepared by Spanish-speaking court interpreters in California with State funding, the guide seeks to:

  • Reduce language and cultural barriers children and families face when abuse allegations are made
  • Improve skills of child interviewers.
  • Promote cultural awareness in child abuse investigations.
  • Provide resources for professionals who want to develop special language and child interviewing skills.

The guide outlines skills for spoken language interpreters and non-verbal communication cues to take into consideration, such as body language and the way words are said. It provides a glossary of basic linguistic concepts and reviews the use of Spanish verbs. It also warns against the use of "false cognates" or using direct translations without taking the context into consideration. For example, the guide warns, it is wrong to directly translate the English verb "molest" used in a sexual context into the Spanish verb "molestar," which means to bother, annoy, or disturb someone.

The Guide includes a dictionary that defines the following Spanish words:

  • Medical and anatomical terms
  • Private body parts
  • Sex-related terms
  • Ways of touching
  • Oral ingestion
  • Ways of bothering
  • Location.

The guide includes diagrams labeling the parts of the human body, including the hand and the male and femal genitals, with their Spanish names.

A sample forensic interview in Spanish contains strategies to gain the confidence of the child, how to assess development, and specific questions to ask. In talking to the child, the interviewer should explain the process, note the presence of observers and tape recorders, emphasize the importance of truthfulness, use drawings for the child to name body parts, and ask questions which elicit in-depth details of the alleged abuse.

The guide concludes with articles about cultural competency in child interviewing, tips for working with families, misinterpretation of common behaviors, and sociocultural/personal issues regarding rape. A list of questions to prepare for testimony in court and a bibliography are also included.

To purchase a copy of the Guide, send $10 with an 8.5 x 11" envelope to:
Irene Tenney
One Kelton Court, Suite 4F
Oakland, CA 94611

A six-hour bilingual workshop is also available to train users in linguistic, cultural, and legal matters.