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NCJ Number: 148251 Find in a Library
Title: Child Witnesses in Sexual Abuse Cases: The Juridical Situation in Germany (From Psychology and Law: International Perspectives, P 374-384, 1992, Friedrich Losel, Doris Bender, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-148224)
Author(s): R Volbert
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: Walter de Gruyter & Co
1 Berlin 30, Germany United
Sale Source: Walter de Gruyter & Co
Genthiner Str 13
1 Berlin 30,
Germany (Unified)
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: Germany (Unified)
Annotation: In Germany, as in other countries, the increased focus on child sexual abuse in recent years has periodically raised the question as to whether existing legal systems and procedures are appropriate for dealing with child witnesses.
Abstract: Germany already follows legal procedures that offer relatively good protection to child witnesses. Further, over the past decade, no increase has occurred in the number of charges or convictions involving child sexual abuse. According to German criminal law, children under 14 years of age are not considered capable of consenting to sexual activity of any kind. Pretrial, trial, and expert witness procedures are in force for dealing with child witnesses in sexual abuse cases. Because information is lacking on the frequency with which children testify in German courts, a study was conducted in West Berlin that included experts on child witness credibility. The examination of 98 sexual abuse cases involving 107 alleged offenders and 140 children found that 95 percent of defendants were male. Physical violence was associated with about 15 percent of cases, and 65 percent of cases involved allegations of multiple incidents over periods ranging from a few weeks up to 7 years. Most alleged offenders were known to their victims, most children and juveniles were examined by experts outside the courtroom, and defendants who had a record of previous sexual offenses were more likely to be convicted than those who did not have such a record. Specific shortcomings were frequent in child sexual abuse cases during the pretrial period. Children were primarily interviewed by police officers who were not specifically trained for the task, and interviews were insufficiently documented. In addition, long delays occurred between police interviews and court trials. Regulations in Germany that offer protection and support for child witnesses are discussed. 23 references, 3 tables, and 3 figures
Main Term(s): Child victims
Index Term(s): Abused children; Child Sexual Abuse; Crime in foreign countries; Foreign courts; Germany; Juvenile witnesses; Sex offenders; Sexual assault victims; Victims in foreign countries; Witness credibility
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