The campus of Messiah College is quiet with students on spring break, but inside Boyer Hall it’s a different story.
This week professionals are being trained as part of the ChildFirst Pennsylvania program. The program changes how police officers and other first responders handle cases of suspected child abuse.
Jason Kutulakis, of Abom and Kutulakis Law Firm in Carlisle, is one of many professionals volunteering his time to the training program. He says ChildFirst makes children the priority in cases of suspected abuse, rather than the investigation.
“Many think we need to make sure we get a statement, we need a good prosecution, but we reverse that a little bit, we make the child the priority and we teach our forensic interviewers how to obtain information from the child,” he said.
The program has been in the works for several years. It’s working to create better understanding of how children relay information, and what types of questions help trigger better responses.
“We as adults think we all communicate the same way,” Kutulakis said. “Children don’t operate the same way.”
By developing this protocol, ChildFirst will prevent victims from having to be interviewed several times.