Friday, November 16, 2007

Regulations on conducting interviews

Hawa has very kindly sent me some of the applicable California Codes, including this from the Penal Code:
11174.3. (a) Whenever a representative of a government agency investigating suspected child abuse or neglect or the State Department of Social Services deems it necessary, a suspected victim of child abuse or neglect may be interviewed during school hours, on school premises, concerning a report of suspected child abuse or neglect that occurred within the child's home or out-of-home care facility. The child shall be afforded the option of being interviewed in private or selecting any adult who is a member of the staff of the school, including any certificated or classified employee or volunteer aide, to be present at the interview. A representative of the agency investigating suspected child abuse or neglect or the State Department of Social Services shall inform the child of that right prior to the interview.
The purpose of the staff person's presence at the interview is to lend support to the child and enable him or her to be as comfortable as possible. However, the member of the staff so elected shall not participate in the interview. The member of the staff so present shall not discuss the facts or circumstances of the case with the child. The member of the staff so present, including, but not limited to, a volunteer aide, is subject to the confidentiality requirements of this article, a violation of which is punishable as specified in Section 11167.5. A representative of the school shall inform a member of the staff so selected by a child of the requirements of this section prior to the interview. A staff member selected by a child may decline the request to be present at the interview. If the staff person selected agrees to be present, the interview shall be held at a time during school hours when it does not involve an expense to the school. Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not affect the admissibility of evidence in a criminal or civil proceeding.
As I read this, the purpose to having a school staff person present in the CPS interview is to trick the poor child into thinking that she has a friendly advocate present to help protect her. Note that the staff person gets an explanation of the purpose, but not the child. The staff person is just supposed to make the child susceptible to CPS interrogation tactics, but cannot actually speak up or help the child. Amazing.

1 comment:

hawa said...

I'm still here. I'm still reading. And I still have that little angry tickle in my stomach. The headings above (newer posts) indicate that this story gets even better (i.e. worse than expected it could get). Glad the letter of the law (codes) helped...