Forensics of abuse

Published 2:09 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – editor
Building trust with a child can be difficult for any adult, but Stephanie Jackson knows how important it can be.
Jackson, executive director and forensic interviewer at the Escambia County Regional Child Advocacy Center, works with abused children regularly in her position.
Jackson, and CAC Child Advocate Jill Edwards, works closely with other agencies in child abuse cases.
A forensic interview conducted by Jackson is more often required when sexual abuse is suspected.
Jackson said the results of her interviews have often found her in the witness seat in court proceedings concerning cases from across the region.
Jackson conducts forensic interviews for three counties including Escambia, Conecuh and Monroe.
Covering three counties, Jackson said the interviewing process can be difficult, at best.
In small towns like Brewton, Jackson said being familiar with a family or victim can sometimes prevent an interview from being conducted in her offices.
Jackson said her interviews are conducted in a controlled, child friendly setting for many reasons.
The questions Jackson and Edwards ask of a victim or family member, are done with care and caution, Jackson said.
Jackson said the interview process is designed to allow children to make a disclosure about the suspected abuse in their own words, on the their own terms.
Although CAC has anatomically correct dolls to use as props during the interview sessions, Jackson said conversation and drawings are typical tools used by the interviewer.
With so many cases being the result of suspected sexual abuse, Jackson said the stress of situations sometimes causes emotional distress for her.
Although the job is stressful and causes emotional turmoil, Jackson said she does what she does for the abused children of this region.
Although CAC does take information concerning suspected abuse, those calls are passed to the Escambia County Department of Human Resources.
The Escambia County Regional Child Advocacy Center has three staff members including Jackson and Edwards. Adam Johnson, a sergeant with the Escambia County Sheriffs Department, is assigned as investigator for CAC.

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