The Use of Anatomical Dolls as a Demonstration Aid in Child Sexual Abuse Interviews: A Study of Forensic Interviewers' Perceptions

Document Type




Format of Original

35 p.

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis

Source Publication

Journal of Child Sexual Abuse

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1080/10538712.2010.511988


Given that most cases of child sexual abuse lack external corroborating evidence, children's verbal accounts of their experiences are of paramount importance to investigators. Forensic interviewers are charged with interviewing child victims and oftentimes use anatomical dolls. Yet, research on dolls has not caught up to practice in the field. Using a multimethod approach, this study presents new evidence on the function and value of using anatomical dolls as a demonstration aid. With a standardized protocol, forensic interviewers from an urban Midwestern Children's Advocacy Center evaluated the purpose and value of anatomical dolls in a forensic setting. Relationships between child characteristics and interviewer-perceived value were examined using descriptive, bivariate findings and case examples. Using a large and diverse sample of children, the study found that forensic interviewers perceived children as able and willing to use dolls for purposes of clarification, consistency, distancing, and communication. Results are discussed in the context of real-world applications and best practices and provide an evidence-based foundation for future research.


Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Vol. 19, No. 5 (2010): 519-553. DOI.