CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Getting information from very young children who may be victims of a crime is not just a matter of asking questions, an expert said Friday.
The three toddlers who went missing in Colleton County and were found in an abandoned trailer were interviewed by therapists in Beaufort, who were hoping to help investigators find out exactly what happened.
The executive director of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center in Charleston is familiar with interviewing toddlers.
"Children who are 2,3,4 are definitely more difficult to interview because they're not as verbal," Carole Swiecicki said.
So how do they get through to children who are that young?
Swiecicki says when the kids arrive at the center, they allow them to talk about things not related to the investigation, such as their birthday or first day of school to make them more comfortable.
The certified therapists avoid yes or no questions to get the child to give details.
"So you're asking about what did you have for breakfast this morning as opposed to saying did you have breakfast this morning because then they'll tell you a lot of things about what they did this morning."
Inside a small room, with cameras rolling, it's the interviewer's job to try to get the child to tell the truth and if anything bad had been done to them.
Depending what is said the interview may wind up in court and could help get a conviction.
Swiecicki says the Lowcountry Children's Center interviewed 1,458 children last year, a 20 percent increase from 2014.