My training in interview and interrogation techniques has value beyond the crime scene. I have a just-turned-six-year-old who, in spite of having two cops as parents, is defintely heading down the road to a career as a defense attorney. I find that handling felons all day is much easier than dealing with the kid (or the 14 six year olds I coach in three sports). "Monkey Boy", as we affectionately refer to him, is a button pusher and wise ass like both of his parents, and thus he sucks whatever intellect and patience I have left at the end of the day. I now have so much more respect for the bosses who have successfully put up with me for all these years, as I have no one to blame for Jag's instinctive behavior but his father and me.

I have found that some of the interview techniques I employ during the day also have merit at home. For instance, the skill of not reacting to a shocking admission or statement from a suspect can be very helpful when the child announces, out of the blue at the dnner table, that he can now burp the complete alphabet. Reacting with laughter or anger only enables the shenanigans. Despite wanting to ask him to prove his claim, restraint was utilized, thus keeping control of dinner table behavior. We have also taken the Reid interview technique of assuming the suspect committed the behavior when interrogating. For instance, instead of "have you gotten any timeouts in school this week?" (which always gets an emphatic "NO") The question should be phrased "how many time outs have you had this week?" This method resulted in the response of "only two". Needless to say, while Jag is able of reciting the play by play of everyone else's time outs during the week, he is completely incapable of remembering when or why he recieved his own timeouts.

Using a fine balance of bluffing and follow through with threat technique (invariable reinforcement) has resulted in the little man immediately disclosing school time transgressions when I pick him up at the end of the day. He will immediately say "I have something to tell you and you're probly gonna be mad." One key here is the suspect's perception of the potential resulting punishment - minimization is useful here. The suspect must think that the honesty in combination with the disclosure of the bad behavior will result in a much lesser sentence than if he had lied or let me find out first. The other key is the suspect's belief that you will pick that phone up and call the teacher to confirm the story (regardless of the reality of actually getting a hold of the teacher). So when his sentence is no ATV for 3 days, he needs to know that because he didn't lie, he was only grounded for three days and not seven (even if you had no intention of grounding him for that long).

There are a myriad of tips for interviewing and interrogating your child, a topic we will continue to explore at a later time. For now, back to the 9th inning of the Tampa Bay/Red Sox game!!!

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Comment by Karyn J. Powers on October 13, 2008 at 10:06am
When my brother (a social worker) and his wife, (a polly-sci major) realized my god-child had the makings of the astro physicist he has become, they were both proud and scared poopless. They found that his greatest fear was being disconnected from his electronic world. So while other kids were getting time outs and grounded, Michael became "unplugged" for what ever time frame matched his crime. Kevin called it "Amish-Time."

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