Should Children Be Allowed to Testify in Court? Essay

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Should Children Be Allowed To Testify In Court?

Over the past ten years, more research has been done involving children's testimony than that of all the prior decades combined. Ceci & Bruck
(93) have cited four reasons for this :

- The opinion of psychology experts is increasingly being accepted by courts as testimony, - Social research is more commonly being applied to the issues of children's rights, - More research into adult suggestibility in accordance with reason naturally leads to more research into child suggestibility,

- Children are more commonly being used as witnesses in cases where they are directly involved (i.e. sexual abuses cases), requiring the development of better ways for dealing with them as special cases.
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Their experiment involved thirty-six children (eighteen 7- year olds and eighteen 4-year olds) going in pairs into a parked trailer with a male stranger (a confederate). One child played games with the confederate while the other child watched closely. Positive verbal and physical interaction took place between the confederate and the participant, and positive verbal interaction took place between the confederate and the bystander. The events were videotaped and lasted about ten minutes. The children then returned individually ten to twelve days later for a memory test and were asked to recall everything he or she could remember about the day in the trailer. Various questions were asked, which included specific and misleading questions. Rudy and Goodman concluded that although the children's participation level in an event did not have a pervasive effect on their memory, it did serve to increase the child's resistance to suggestion. Thus, children are more likely to resist suggestion if they are somehow involved with the event.

Robins et al (92) criticised this investigation on a number of levels and concluded that it could not be applied to support the use of child witnesses in a courtroom situation with any validity. Firstly, Robins noted that the majority of cases in which children were used as witnesses (i.e. sexual abuse and sexual assault cases), the events that the witnesses are asked to recall are often far from positive and

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