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NCJ Number: 185113 Find in a Library
Title: Extent of Children's Knowledge of Court as Estimated by Guardians ad Litem
Journal: Child Abuse Review  Volume:9  Issue:4  Dated:July-August 2000  Pages:275-286
Author(s): Simon Eltringham; Jan Aldridge
Date Published: 2000
Page Count: 12
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: "Knowledge of court" questionnaires were completed by 35 designated professionals (guardians ad litem) with specific responsibility for children in family proceedings in the civil judicial system of England and Wales; they estimated the percentage of 11-year-old children whom they would expect to provide a "full," "partial," and "incorrect" answer to each question.
Abstract: These estimations were compared with normative data on this questionnaire obtained from actual 11-year-olds. This comparison suggests that guardians ad litem tend to overestimate the extent of such children's knowledge, implying that individual children may not be as well prepared for involvement with the legal system as such informed professionals might believe. Such a tendency might render it less likely that easily corrected misconceptions and gaps in knowledge be identified and subsequently addressed, thereby failing to minimize the stress (e.g., fear of the unknown) that can often accompany children's contact with the courts. The possibility that the discrepancy between actual and estimated scores might be, in part, due to a failure in adults to adopt the "psychological perspective" of the child in the unfamiliar world of the adult judicial system is discussed. Although this possibility requires further investigation, making an explicit effort to "get into the child's shoes" is suggested as a potentially valuable and practical first step toward reducing such discrepancies. 2 figures, 20 references, and appended questionnaire
Main Term(s): Juvenile witnesses
Index Term(s): Abused children; Child victims; Children in the courtroom; Guardian ad litem; Trial preparation; Witness assistance
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