Jodi Quas gets NSF grant to improve protocols for interviewing young sex trafficking victims

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Jodi Quas, UCI professor of psychological science, has received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to improve protocols for law enforcement officers when questioning adolescent sex trafficking victims. She and Thomas D. Lyon, the Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Chair in Law and Psychology at USC, will examine several hundred interview and trial transcripts to determine which tactics are effective and which are not. They’ll evaluate the type and tone of questions asked, whether responses are evasive or complete, and the interview’s impact on courtroom outcomes. “Little scientific and policy attention has been devoted to expanding what we know about interviewing children and adolescents, especially those who’ve been exploited,� Quas said. “Our goal is to help police and other professionals conduct the proceedings in a way that improves the completeness and accuracy of young victims’ accounts. We want to ensure their protection and prosecute those who commit these heinous crimes.� Quas has done extensive research on children’s memory and eyewitness reporting abilities, the effects of stress and trauma on child development, and child and adolescent involvement in the legal system.