Summer Blog Series
Passion. Perspective. Purpose.

A summer blog series.
Written by ghost writer, Hannah Rials

Christina Copland: An Open Forensic Interviewer

         The most important fact about New Hope, and there’s no disputing this, we are always open—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our doors are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our ears are open to hearing the truths, problems, needs, and fears of all the children who walk through our doors. Our minds are open to new methods and research based practices to better serve our clients, team, and community. We share openly our knowledge of how to keep children safe so we can prevent future abuse from occurring.  We’re working toward a future where we don’t have to be open anymore.
            My name is Christina Copland. Years ago, when I was in school and still deciding what I wanted to do with my life, I was trained as a physical educator and pre-seminarian with the goal of being a division 1 volleyball coach. However, my strong desire to help others, paired with a sense of social justice that never went away, pulled me away from coaching and ministry and into social work. My first job in the field was as a direct services provider for drug exposed infants. I had the blessing of caring for sweet babies eight hours a day. From there, I moved into a placement coordinator for the medically fragile children, which helped me to learn about child protective services system from the inside. Helping children find safe havens turned my spark for social justice into a flame.

        After taking time to start my family—raising my kids will always be my best and favorite job—I was called back to social work in the form of a forensic interview position in Illinois, and nine years later, I was recruited by our former director, Trudy Hughes. So here I am, opening myself up to the Blount County community.

Speaking truth to power is NEVER easy.

        There’s a politically correct way to describe to you what I do, but I’ve made a vow both to myself and to the children that I serve to be honest and direct. As a forensic interviewer, I ask children to trust me within five minutes of meeting me. We go into a room together, and they tell me everything about themselves that I ask. We talk about extremely private information relating to their bodies and their experiences with others that may or may not be pleasant. They are often told that there would be horrible consequences to themselves or their families if they ever tell another person about these experiences. But here they are, telling me.
         I knew going into this job that the roughest part for me would be when a child trusts me, tells me everything they’ve been forced to keep secret, and when the Child Protective Investigative Team is unable to protect that child from being re-exposed to a situation where they have experienced harm at the hands of another for legality reasons.  It’s heart breaking when the system fails our kids for whatever the reasons may be. 

          I’ve had to learn what I call letting things pass through you and not getting stuck on your insides your heart, your gut, your head. It would be very easy to absorb the trauma that I listen to everyday. But everybody here has to practice self-care. It’s part of the job description. We have to be our best selves in order to serve the children to our fullest abilities. We keep our cases in files. They live there, not in our hearts and minds, no matter how heavy.

          I have a hard job. Everyone here at New Hope has a hard job. There’s no denying it. I ask children to trust me with graphic and often embarrassing details. I ask them to be honest with me, so in turn, I have made a personal, ethical, and moral commitment to myself and every child that I have ever interviewed that I will not be any less truthful in my life, daily actions, interactions than I ask the kids to be with me. I elicit a promise to tell the truth and for that reason, I tell the truth to honor the children who trust me with their truths.

       There are high stakes consequences to what children tell me—losing their homes, their families, and their sources of support, the lives that they’ve always known. Because of this, I aim to do exactly what I ask of each of them every day, all day long, in my personal interactions with people. Sometimes it’s hard to swallow. But there are no exceptions. It’s a part of my self-care.      

       The last thing I would like to say is to all the children—those who haven’t walked through our doors and those who have closed our doors: We see you. We hear you. We believe you AND we are here to help you on your healing journey. We are proud of you and the courage you showed by walking through the doors and speaking your truth.

One Story.
One Time.
One Place. 


New Hope Blount County Children's Advocacy Center
Copyright © *2016* *New Hope, Blount County Children's Advocacy Center*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
*P.O. Box 5058, Maryville, TN 37802*

*Mission: To restore hope to abused or traumatized children and their families.|*
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