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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 156810 Find in a Library
Title: Preparing Children for the Investigative and Judicial Process: Improving Communication, Memory and Emotional Resiliency -- Final Report to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect
Author(s): K Saywitz; R Nathanson; L Snyder; V Lamphear
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 108
Sponsoring Agency: National Ctr on Child Abuse and Neglect
McLean, VA 22102
University of California
Torrance, CA 90509
Grant Number: 90CA1179
Sale Source: University of California
School of Medicine, Dept of Psychiatry
Harbor-UCLA Medical Ctr
1000 W. Carson Street
Torrance, CA 90509
United States of America
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Because the investigative and judicial process can increase the stress level of children who are already emotionally vulnerable, the authors recommend a comprehensive, standardized approach to preparing juvenile witnesses based on developmentally sensitive, theoretically driven, and empirically tested techniques.
Abstract: Pretrial delays, numerous interrogations by insensitive authority figures, court rescheduling and continuances, harsh cross-examinations, and multiple court appearances may be particularly stressful for children. Further, the criminal justice process may be derailed by concerns over children's competence, credibility, and emotional stamina. Prosecutors are sometimes reluctant to file charges, judges may dismiss cases, and parents are hesitant to subject their children to the ordeal of testifying. Legal reforms have been proposed to facilitate children's testimony, such as testifying in a separate room, but these reforms have been criticized as violating the rights of the accused. An alternate approach to reducing stress and facilitating testimony without infringing on the rights of adults involves adequate preparation of juvenile witnesses. Innovations designed to enhance memory and communication and to help children resist suggestion are evaluated, and effects of the courtroom environment on children's memory and stress level are discussed. Appendixes contain supporting data and additional information on measures used to reduce children's stress and facilitate their memory. 91 references, 12 tables, and 1 figure
Main Term(s): Juvenile witnesses
Index Term(s): Child victims; Children in the courtroom; Courts; Juvenile victims; Psychological victimization effects; Rights of the accused; Witness credibility
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