Professionals interviewing maltreated children supported via artificial avatars
The project proposes to develop a new digital interview-training program drawing on expertise in developmental psychology and artificial intelligence
Prevention of maltreatment, physical and sexual abuse of children is a significant societal problem and a politically prioritized task. Abuse and maltreatment increase the risk for severe psychological, psychosocial and somatic health problems. Protecting and assisting maltreated children is therefore of high priority for child protective services and law enforcement.
These cases are demanding, and the quality of the investigative interviews conducted by the child protective services and the police must be high. However, national and international research show that although both intensive and less intensive training programs for investigative interviewers may impart knowledge about good practice, they have little, if any, effect on the interviewing skills.
The project proposes to develop a new digital interview-training program drawing on expertise in developmental psychology and artificial intelligence. The program includes an interactive avatar (a virtual child) that responds like a real child during an interview situation. We will then determine if an interview-training program using realistic, interactive avatars can effectively improve to a consistently high level, the skills of child-welfare and law-enforcement professionals at interviewing maltreated and abused children. We will also investigate whether they maintain these skills over time.
The project has the potential to contribute to more efficient and coordinated assistance to children who are victims of maltreatment, violence and sexual abuse. The interactive-learning program, if successfully, will thus significantly lower the interviewer-training costs. However, first and foremost, the project aims to improve the investigative interviewing skills of practitioners tasked with protecting vulnerable children, thereby contributing to the prevention of child abuse and physical violence.