childrens eyewitness testimonies

Children’s Eyewitness Testimonies M. Bruning 2 Using young children as witnesses in criminal and civil cases has come under the spotlight in recent years due to an increased awareness of child sexual abuse. Children are now allowed to provide testimony in cases dealing with sexual abuse, where there are only two accounts of reality, that of the child’s and that of the alleged perpetrator. Herein lies the major problem with allowing young children to testify in a court of law. Numerous studies have shown that there are weaknesses in children’s reporting and memory, thus causing great concern in the legal profession. Also, there are questions concerning the use of suggestibility techniques by interviewers that may sway a child’s testimony and may even allow children to create events that may not have occurred at all. Obviously, this is a topic of great concern that has major impacts on the lives of numerous people across the globe and is an issue that we must resolve. There are many concerns to address when discussing this topic and this paper will address several of the issues in order to clarify a few misconceptions. The main issue concerning child testimony and recollection is that of the interviewing process. A consistent finding concerning suggestibility is that young children are more vulnerable to suggestive techniques than older children. As seen in Goodwin’s suggestibility survey (which compared three to four year olds versus seven year olds), younger children were found to be more suggestible than older children. This is of great concern because most sexual abuse occurs among preschoolers. A major problem during interviewers is that interviewers develop interviewers bias. Interviewers M. Bruning 3 bias occurs when they hold preset ideas about events that may or may not have occurred. Professionals then seek confirmatory evidence instead of asking children open-ended questions. These interviewe…

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