The Woodward News

Local News

February 21, 2007

Officials receive training in interviewing children

Recently Woodward law enforcement, social workers, and juvenile justice officers have had the opportunity to receive top of the line training in forensic interviewing skills.

The Forensic Interviewer Certificate Series, presented by nationally renowned expert Ann Ahlquist, has been training Woodward citizens in child interviewing skills on three levels: Basic Cognitive Graphic Certificate, Advanced Cognitive Graphic Certificate and Mastery Cognitive Graphic Certificate.

The program teaches a cognitive child interview process which has been proven to be 25 percent to 50 percent more accurate than any other child interviewing process. This method works very well with the legal system to detect abuse, neglect or interview child witnesses to crimes.

“It’s a brand new tool for us,” said Woodward Police Det. Cpl. Mike Morton.

“This class has been very beneficial for me to have better skills to perform better interviews with children which will, in turn, help better assist the families we work with,” said Christi Castor, Child Welfare Specialist III for Woodward, Harper and Ellis Counties.

The method, which was developed in 1984 by Ahlquist and colleague Patricia Batko, uses drawings and mappings to interview children and gets them to answer questions without leading them or using suggestion or bias.

“(The Cognitive Graphing Method) has a lot of acceptance in the United States,” said Ahlquist. “It’s been translated into several different languages.”

Ahlquist has interviewed over 4,000 children and has trained over 30,000 professionals in the United States, Poland, Russia, Africa and Korea. She has also written numerous academic courses and holds many awards and honors including the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the University of Minnesota Duluth School of Social Work.

This program was provided to Woodward’s professionals through a grant from the Children’s Justice Act. The classes were free to those who attended and aside from Woodward there were attendees from Durant, Talequah and the Cherokee Nation.

“It is state of the art training,” said David Sauls, OSBI deputy inspector.

Those who attended the training will receive three college credit hours through Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

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