Big white van is traumatizing


While reading The Reporter, I was drawn to the article entitled, “DelCo child advocacy mobile unit: reducing retraumatization.”

I was drawn to the article specifically due to the phrase “reducing retraumatization.” I hate to be the one to point this out, but the entire procedure discussed in this article is not trauma-informed, and in fact, is retraumatizing. A big white van pulling up in a rural community is surely scary, regardless of where it is parked, and is the signature vehicle used in child abductions and sex trafficking.

I am not sure why other representatives need to be behind in a monitor room, which by the way, the child watches everyone file into the van before questioning. Why does a child providing detailed brutal trauma information need a three-ring-circus to corroborate their story that is taken by a trained crime victim interviewer? Not only is that a crime, but it is also retraumatizing, and disgusting. Is this how the perpetrator is questioned?

Lastly, why does Delaware Opportunities only have one interviewer trained to facilitate these sensitive meetings? What if the trained staff is sick, on vacation, dies, or decides to take a different position? This is a highly skilled area that requires years of experience, along with training to ensure the child is not retraumatized by the questions, etc. Not only that, there should be ongoing training and consultation among in-house staff to keep up-to-date on continuing education and to improve the program.

Lastly, and just a heads up, THREE hours of questioning elementary-aged children is not, again, trauma-informed and is surely retraumatizing. Also, when a victim has tangible evidence, there needs to be an appropriate protocol in place, and the evidence actually needs to be processed and evaluated.

Dotti Howe



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