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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136749 Find in a Library
Title: Child Witnesses in Criminal Courts
Journal: Children and Society  Volume:4  Issue:3  Dated:(Autumn 1990)  Pages:264-283
Author(s): R Flin
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 20
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Children attend criminal courts to give evidence both as victims and as witnesses, and it is widely accepted that this can be a very stressful experience for children, particularly those who have been victimized.
Abstract: Causes of stress for child witnesses can be divided into three categories. The first source of stress relates to the observation or experience of the crime itself. The second category of stress is caused by such pretrial factors as delays, children's lack of legal knowledge, and repeated questioning. The third source of stress comes during the trial itself and relates to waiting in court, rescheduling, lack of knowledge, courtroom layout, confronting the accused, and cross-examination. Whether a child finds the experience of a criminal investigation and trial to be stressful will depend on the individual's personality, the type of offense in question, the relationship between the child and the defendant, parental reaction, the manner in which the investigation and trial are conducted, the degree of support given to the child, and trial outcome. When evaluating the degree of stress experienced by a child witness, it is necessary to distinguish between psychological effects attributable to witnessing or being the victim of a crime and those caused by the child's involvement in the investigation and trial. Particular attention should be paid to the effects of stress on the day of the trial and to long-term effects of being a witness. 44 references and 1 figure
Main Term(s): Juvenile witnesses
Index Term(s): Behavior under stress; Child victims; Children in the courtroom
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