Children involved in abuse or neglect situations which are likely to result in Juvenile Court or Criminal Court proceedings may be interviewed at Safe Harbor. Human Service social workers and law enforcement officers jointly make decisions about Safe Harbor use.
Safe Harbor interviews are videotaped for future Court-related use. A trained social worker or police officer conducts the interview. Others (including a district attorney) participate from another room. (Parents do not participate in or witness the interview.)
Safe Harbor interviews accomplish several goals. First, children are interviewed once only; the trauma of repeat interviews is avoided (as the first interview is recorded for parties to review). Second, all systems parties have input into the one interview; the interview is superior as a result. Finally, the interview is conducted in a neutral and user-friendly place.
Safe Harbor interviews should bring about fewer trials (as maltreaters will more frequently plead to charges), more successful prosecutions in instances when Court proceedings do take place, and fewer (or no) Court appearances for children when proceedings take place.