Forensic investigation into allegations of abuse
A forensic evaluation is done when there is a suspicion or allegations of either physical or sexual abuse. Within a forensic evaluation the court is seen as the client, as the goal of the evaluation is to decide whether legal action should be taken or not. The forensic evaluation is done in accordance with sound research and knowledge gained through extensive training.
A forensic evaluation consists of several steps:
Step 1: A pre-forensic evaluation which screens the child’s general behaviour and relevant systems in the child’s life.
Step 2: The forensic sessions includes finding facts related to the allegations of abuse
Step 3: A collateral investigation consisting of interviews with all relevant parties, which may include but is not limited to the parents, alleged perpetrator, school of the child concerned etc.
Step 4: If sufficient grounds are found to continue with the legal process and the legal system requests a report, a report is written which may guide FCS in their investigation.
The role of the forensic social worker or investigator is to remain objective and neutral with regards to the allegations and to test alternative hypothesis for the allegations. Forensic evaluations differ from play therapy in that the process is not confidential of nature, the child is not seen as the client and although it is done in a child friendly manner the goal is not to support the child and help the child deal with the emotions relating to the abuse. It is a fact- finding process assisting the legal system with the way forward.