Topic: Violence and abuse

The challenging dialogue

“The challenging dialogue” is a research- and developmental project concerning method development- and skill improvement in conducting focused dialogues with children in the child welfare system. A dialogical child’s perspective is the foundation of this study which has a naturalistic design.

2005 This project has been completed 2010

Project Manager

Project Member

  • Gamst, Kari Trøften

Main objective

Research shows that violence and abuse against children is a serious societal problem and these problems are hidden, kept secret and underreported. Research shows that a high level of skill is required in order to conduct a dialogue with children concerning such issues, and that it is both demanding to acquire these skills but also demanding to utilize and apply them. 

Child protective services carry a large responsibility and have a unique opportunity in gaining access into what children and adolescents comprehend and how they describe reality. Early disclosure of serious neglect, violence and sexual abuse against children will in a preventative perspective either hinder or reduce damage.

From this perspective this study seeks to both obtain an increased insight into methodical techniques of the child interview and find educational methods that can be used for the implementation of these techniques in the child welfare system.

The study’s objective is to increase child welfare officers’ skill and ability when conducting a focused dialogue with children in child protective services and to acquire research based knowledge on methodical approaches for focused dialogue with children


A dialogical communication method for children (DCM) was originally developed for judicial interviews (Gamst & Langballe, 2004) and will be adapted to suit interviewing children within the welfare system, by testing it out in normal settings. The implementation of these skills will be the basis of how teachable these techniques are.

Data consists of 48 audio recorded interviews of children, conducted by child welfare officers and field notes. Both qualitative and quantitative analyzes are conducted.

Further information

The project intends on developing educational material to be used in teaching child interview techniques.

Three Masters’ degrees are involved in this project
1. Interviewing children within child protective services. A study of children’s perspective on neglect (freely translated).

2. Analysis of contents of child’s narrative on violence and neglect with the perspective of reliability (freely translated).

3. Interviewing the child in child protective services- what does this lead to? (freely translated).

This study is collaboration between Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, NKVTS and Regional Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies- East, RVTS- Øst and is part of the research program “Conditions during childhood, behavioral problems and inclusion,” (freely translated) the Institute for Special Needs teaching University of Oslo, under the management of Professor Edvard Befring.


Langballe, Å., Gamst, K., & Jabobsen, M. (2010). Den vanskelige samtalen. Barneperspektiv på barnevernarbeid. Kunnskapsbasert praksis og handlingskompetanse, [The challenging dialogue. Child’s perspective on child welfare protection services. Scientific based practice and practical skills.
Norwegian only.