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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 63988 Find in a Library
Title: CREDIBILITY OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT WITNESSES IN SEXUAL CRIMES
Journal: MONATSSCHRIFT FUER KRIMINOLOGIE UND STRAFRECHTSREFORM  Volume:62  Issue:3  Dated:(JUNE 1979)  Pages:149-156
Author(s): M BERGER
Corporate Author: Carl Heymanns Verlag
Germany (Unified)
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: Carl Heymanns Verlag
5 Cologne 1, Germany United
Format: Article
Language: German
Country: West Germany (Former)
Annotation: PSYCHODYNAMIC FACTORS INFLUENCING THE BEHAVIOR OF JUVENILE WITNESSES ARE DISCUSSED FROM A PSYCHIATRIST'S POINT OF VIEW.
Abstract: WHEN A JUVENILE'S TESTIMONY FORMS THE CORE OF AN ACCUSATION, CHILD PSYCHIATRISTS ARE USUALLY ASKED TO ASSESS THE WITNESS'S CREDIBILITY. THIS PROCEDURE IS ALL THE MORE IMPERATIVE SINCE THE ILLOGICAL, CONTRADICTORY, AND EVASIVE TESTIMONY OF SOME MINORS OFTEN LEADS THE JUDGES TO A SPONTANEOUS DISBELIEF IN THE WITNESS WITHOUT CONSIDERING THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SITUATION AND THE EMOTIONAL TURMOIL INVOLVED. TWO TYPES OF JUVENILES PLACE PARTICULAR DEMANDS ON THE DISCRETION OF JUDGES AND PSYCHIATRIC EXPERTS--JUVENILE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL OFFENSES AND EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED JUVENILES. IN CASES OF SEXUAL ABUSE, SOME FORM OF DEPENDENCE ON THE ABUSER IS USUALLY INVOLVED, AND THE JUVENILES' COURT BEHAVIOR RANGES FROM GRIEF, DISAPPOINTMENT, SHAME, GUILT, AND ANGER TO THE STUBBORN REFUSAL TO TESTIFY AT ALL. OFTEN, JUVENILES RETRACT A PREVIOUS VERACIOUS ACCUSATION IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THE AFFECTION OF THE ACCUSED. IN ADDITION, ADOLESCENTS HAVE GREAT INHIBITIONS ABOUT RELATING SEXUAL EXPERIENCES PUBLICLY. THE EVALUATIVE TASK BECOMES EVEN MORE COMPLICATED IF THE CHILD HAS SUFFERED A HISTORY OF SOCIAL DEPRIVATION AND EMOTIONAL NEGLECT (E.G., CHILDREN TESTIFYING AGAINST SOCIAL WORKERS). SUCH JUVENILES ARE TORN BETWEEN HATRED AND AFFECTION AND, UNABLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN REALITY AND FANTASY, OFTEN MIX VERACIOUS AND FICTITIOUS TESTIMONY. DISTURBED JUVENILES MAY ALSO MAKE PERFECTLY TRUTHFUL STATEMENTS AND THEN REFUSE TO BACK THEM UP CLAIMING THEY WOULD NOT BELIEVED ANYWAY. THE EVALUATION PROCESS IS GREATLY SIMPLIFIED IF THE EXPERT SUCCEEDS IN GAINING THE CLIENT'S CONFIDENCE; IN SOME CASES, A CLOSE OBSERVATION OF THE ACCUSED'S BEHAVIOR DURING THE JUVENILE'S TESTIMONY MAY ALSO GIVE CLUES TO THE WITNESS'S CREDIBILITY. THE ARTICLE INCLUDES A SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY. --IN GERMAN. (SAJ)
Index Term(s): Juvenile dependency and neglect; Juveniles; Psychiatry; Psychological evaluation; Sex offenses; Testimony; Witnesses
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=63988

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