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NCJ Number: 113967 Find in a Library
Title: Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse: A Challenge to the Status Quo (From Victims of Crime: A New Deal?, P 138-146, 1988, Mike Maguire and John Pointing, eds. -- See NCJ-113954)
Author(s): Z Adler
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: Open University Press
Bristol, PA 19007
Sale Source: Open University Press
1900 Frost Road
Suite 101
Bristol, PA 19007
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The prosecution of intra-familial child sexual abuse is often appropriate, but current legal procedures in the United Kingdom do not accord with research on the dynamics of such abuse and the competence of children to provide reliable evidence.
Abstract: Although a therapeutic, noncriminal approach to intra-familial child sexual abuse is often considered by mental health professionals to be the most effective means of addressing the root causes of the problem, prosecution of the offender frequently benefits the child victim. Prosecution can make it clear to the child that the offender's behavior is unacceptable to the larger society; it may help relieve the child's guilt; and it may help to break the cycle of abuse, whereby abused children are likely to become abusing parents. British common law procedures, however, tend to obstruct the effective prosecution of such cases. They expose the child witness to the full rigors of the adversarial system and do nothing to ensure that secrecy surrounding the abuse, a late complaint, and retraction by the victim are indicators of a normal pattern following child sexual abuse rather than signs that the child is lying. Also, various legal rules governing the status of child witnesses fail to recognize their vulnerability and do not afford them adequate protection. They also inhibit the presentation of the child's testimony and put little value on the child's evidence when it is given. 2 notes.
Main Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse
Index Term(s): Children in the courtroom; Trial procedures; United Kingdom (UK); Witness credibility
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