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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 68056 Find in a Library
Title: CHILD AND ADOLESCENT TESTIMONY IN COURT
Journal: REVUE INTERNATIONALE DE CRIMINOLOGIE ET DE POLICE TECHNIQUE  Volume:32  Issue:3  Dated:(JULY/SEPTEMBER 1979)  Pages:275-296
Author(s): R A PAILLARD
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 22
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: Switzerland
Annotation: SPECIAL PROBLEMS ARISE IN DEALING WITH CHILD AND ADOLESCENT WITNESSES THAT CALL FOR SENSITIVITY, LEGAL PROTECTION, AND KNOWLEDGE OF PSYCHOLOGY, ESPECIALLY DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY.
Abstract: WHEN TESTIMONY IS TAKEN FROM CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS, IT IS PARAPHRASED BY COURT REPORTERS AND RECORDED AS A SUMMARIZED VERSION, A PROCESS WHICH ELIMINATES UNNECESSARY DETAILS AND REPETITION OF INFORMATION, BUT ALSO NEGLECTS THE NUANCES OF THE TESTIMONY--THE HESITANCIES, THE PAUSES, THE FERVOR, OR THE ANGER. TO RECORD OR TELEVISE THE TESTIMONY CAN INHIBIT THE WITNESS OR INFRINGE ON HIS RIGHTS IF DONE WITHOUT THE WITNESS'S PERMISSION. AN ADULT'S INTERPRETATION OF A CHILD'S RAMBLING, FANTASY-FILLED ACCOUNT OF AN EVENT REMAINS ARBITRARY. COMPLICATING THE MATTER IS THE CHILD OR ADOLESCENT'S IDENTIFICATION OR NONIDENTIFICATION WITH EITHER THE COURT REPORT OR THE ACCUSED. A CHILD MIGHT PROJECT FEELINGS OF GUILT ONTO AN INNOCENT SUSPECT, OR ENRAGED BY AN ACTION WITNESSED, EXAGGERATE THE EVENT. A CHILD REMEMBERING AN UNPLEASANT SITUATION OR OCCURRENCE CAN CONSTRUCT A FALSE TESTIMONY OUT OF SELFDEFENSE, OR AS A PRODUCT OF UNCONSCIOUS MEMORY. WHILE JUDGES AND COURT REPORTERS CANNOT PUT EVERY CHILD OR ADOLESCENT THROUGH A TEST OF PERSONALITY, INTELLIGENCE, OR PSYCHOLOGICAL WELFARE BEFORE ALLOWING TESTIMONY, AND SPECIAL PANELS FOR HEARING JUVENILE TESTIMONY ARE IMPRACTICAL, JUVENILES CAN BE MADE MORE COMFORTABLE BY GIVING WITNESS ONLY BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, WITH THE PRESENCE OF A CHILD SPECIALIST AND PARENTS. THE COURT REPORTER SHOULD BE SENSITIVE TO THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN, AND JUDGES SHOULD HAVE SOME DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY TRAINING IN THEIR LEGAL BACKGROUND. MOREOEVER, CHILDREN SHOULD BE TOLD THAT TESTIFYING IS A CIVIL DUTY AND A RIGHT OF A TRUSTWORTHY HUMAN BEING. FOOTNOTES ARE SUPPLIED. --IN FRENCH.
Index Term(s): Behavior under stress; Juveniles; Testimony; Trial procedures; Witness assistance; Witnesses
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68056

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