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NCJ Number: 97315 Find in a Library
Title: Child and the Criminal Justice System (From Rape and Sexual Assault, P 199-208, 1985, Ann W Burgess, ed. - See NCJ-97300)
Author(s): L Berliner
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: Garland Publishing, Inc.
New York, NY 10003-3304
Sale Source: Garland Publishing, Inc.
19 Union Square
West Floor 8
New York, NY 10003-3304
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Although the last decade has seen many positive changes in the public's awareness of and response to child sexual assault and in the handling of these cases by the criminal justice system, the system still often operates in a way which benefits the accused while discounting and traumatizing the victim.
Abstract: Like adult rape victims, child victims of sexual assault often encounter stereotyped prejudgments that they fantasize, make false reports, or remember events inaccurately. No consensus exists about the proper role of the criminal justice system in dealing with child sexual abuse. The adversary process presents difficulties for the system, the victims, and their families, and few cases of child sexual assault are prosecuted. However, positive changes over the past decade have included the expanded education of parents and professionals regarding child sexual abuse, increased sensitivity to child victim-witness needs in criminal justice processing, the provision of more treatment, and the development of child abuse intervention teams. Procedural changes in case handling have accommodated the natural limitations of child witnesses and minimized additional trauma to the victim. In communities with strong service networks, offenders are likely to plead guilty and avoid a trial, thus precluding the child's involvement in a trial. However, special approaches are now being used for child witnesses that reduce the trauma of testifying. Changes have also occurred in dispositional procedures and in the laws relating to sexual assault. Child sexual assault cases can be successfully prosecuted when the criminal justice system is sensitive to victim needs, the possibility of rehabilitation, and the safety of the community. An area still needing exploration is the effectiveness of the adversary system of legal justice in dealing with child sexual abuse. Nineteen references are listed.
Index Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Competency to testify; Juvenile witnesses; Victim services; Witness assistance; Witness credibility
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