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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 113438 Find in a Library
Title: Child as Witness (From Child Sexual Abuse: A Handbook for Health Care and Legal Professionals, P 166-180, 1988, Diane H Schetky and Arthur H Green, eds. -- See NCJ-113435)
Author(s): D H Schetky
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Brunner/Mazel, Inc.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Sale Source: Brunner/Mazel, Inc.
Marketing Manager
325 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After an overview of the historical background of the management of child witnesses, this paper discusses issues in child competency to testify, the prosecutorial decision about whether or not a child should testify, jurors' reactions to child witnesses, and changes in the treatment of child witnesses.
Abstract: The legal criteria for competence to testify do not take into account such factors as the child's temperament, ability to cooperate, and present reality testing, all of which may affect performance as a witness. It will often be necessary to have a child psychiatric forensic examination performed to assess the child's competency to testify. Issues in the prosecutorial decision about whether the child should testify are the importance of the testimony for a conviction, the risk of harm to the child, and the child's effectiveness as a witness. Efforts to ease the stress on the child witness include videotaped testimony and testimony via closed-circuit television. Such measures must not impede the defendant's right to confront witnesses. Factors affecting children's perception and event recall include cognitive factors and emotional factors. Jurors are likely to mistrust the credibility of child witnesses absent corroborating evidence. Recommendations for change in the treatment of child witnesses focus on the pretrial phase, the trial phase, and statutory and procedural changes. 52 references.
Main Term(s): Juvenile witnesses
Index Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Competency to testify; Trial procedures
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