The S.A.I.N Interview: Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is the benefit of having a Sexual Assault Intervention Network (S.A.I.N.) interview?
When a S.A.I.N. interview occurs, it simply means that all the agencies involved in investigating suspected child abuse and neglect can coordinate their efforts and simultaneously investigate the matter. The S.A.I.N. allows for the coordination of a single interview during the investigative stage rather than multiple interviews/investigations by each agency if they were acting alone. Typically, the agencies that are involved in this type of investigation are, at a minimum, the District Attorney’s Office, The Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Law Enforcement
2) What will happen during a S.A.I.N. interview?
- Typically, your child will be interviewed in either the Northwestern District Attorney’s primary interview site, which is the Child Advocacy Center in Northampton or our satellite site in Greenfield, MA. The Child Advocacy Center (C.A.C.) and the satellite site in Greenfield are both safe, child-friendly locations where your child can be interviewed. Only one member of the Team, typically the child interview specialist, will meet with and question your child. The remaining team members will observe the interview from an adjoining room through a one-way mirror. The Interviewer will meet you and your child prior to the Interview.
3) Should I prepare my child for the interview in any way?
- While you should NOT go over the details of the incident with your child, many children seem most comfortable when they have been told generally what to expect during the interview. It is important to explain to your child that he or she will be meeting with a professional to talk about what has happened. You can let your child know the person who will be asking questions is someone whose job is to talk to children and make sure they are safe. You should not tell your child what to say, but simply to tell the truth. Some children may need reassurance that they are not in trouble and they are not going to this meeting because they have done something wrong. .
4) Is this the only time my child will have to speak about the abuse?
- Probably not. Your child’s participation in the S.A.I.N. interview does not mean that your child will never have to speak to anyone about the abuse again. The assistant district attorney and victim witness advocate will consult with you on the District Attorney’s decision of whether to prosecute the case and will discuss your child’s involvement in the court process. In addition, children may continue to speak about their experience in therapy as a means of working through their feelings.
5) Can I remain in the room with my child during the interview?
- No. It is important for the forensic interviewer to speak with your child alone. It is typically difficult for children to talk about sexual abuse, and a parent’s presence may distract or inhibit the child during the interview. Children may also look to the parent to answer questions for them. It is best if the child can provide information independently.
6) Can I watch my child being interviewed?
- No. Team members need to carefully observe, assess and document the interview, which is a part of a criminal investigation and be free to communicate investigative ideas about the case without outside persons present. Furthermore, you also may be called as a witness in any subsequent prosecution, so parents and other non-team members cannot be with the S.A.I.N. team during the interview.
7) Will I have an opportunity to speak to the S.A.I.N. Team?
- Yes. Before your child is interviewed you will have an opportunity to meet with and speak to the S.A.I.N. Team. After your child has been interviewed, you will again be invited in to speak with the Team to discuss the interview, explain what you what to expect next and to answer any questions you may have.
8) Can I bring someone else with me on the day of the S.A.I.N. Interview?
- Yes. We encourage you to bring a family member or friend to stay with you while your child is being interviewed and/or to remain with your child while you meet with the Team. If you don’t bring anyone along, a Family Service Advocate can sit with your child while you meet with the Team.