Children's Institute International
(CII) is an anti-child abuse organization in Los Angeles
that was started in 1950 as "The Colleagues" to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters
. The organization played a role in the McMartin preschool trial
, interviewing children suspected of being abused using methods that were at the time completely new, and proved to be controversial.
McMartin preschool trial
CII played a major role in the McMartin preschool trial, one of the first and certainly largest criminal trial that was part of the day care sex abuse hysteria
and satanic ritual abuse
moral panic. Before the trial, CII investigated primarily physical abuse
, with a small section that conducted infrequent medical examinations and interviews with children involved in child sexual abuse
allegations. Kee MacFarlane, an employee at the center, had the idea to use hand puppets
and anatomically correct dolls
during interviews with children, believing they would aid disclosure and therapeutic recovery. The initial interviews were taped, and later the sections of the tape in which the children actually made disclosures were shown to parents to convince them their children had been abused. The agency ultimately interviewed more than 350 children who were involved in the trial, using techniques that, when tested, were found to be superior to simple suggestion in causing children to make false allegations. CII also received $350,000 in state funding in 1985, becoming the first publicly-funded training center for the diagnosis and treatment of child abuse.