Should Children Be Allowed to Testify in Court?

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Should Children Be Allowed To Testify In Court?

Over the past ten years, more research has been done involving children's testimony than that of all the prior decades combined. Ceci & Bruck
(93) have cited four reasons for this :

- The opinion of psychology experts is increasingly being accepted by courts as testimony, - Social research is more commonly being applied to the issues of children's rights, - More research into adult suggestibility in accordance with reason naturally leads to more research into child suggestibility,

- Children are more commonly being used as witnesses in cases where they are directly involved (i.e. sexual abuses cases), requiring the development of better ways for dealing with them as special cases.
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guilt, fear, hatred, confusion etc, none of which were present in the Rudy and Goodman study.
Although, of course, the introduction of these factors would have been a serious breach of ethics. Another criticism is that the time frame involved may not have been sufficiently long enough to emulate the period from event to testimony in a child witness case. Finally, the situation under which they were asked to recall the event was not nearly the same as being asked to recall details in a courtroom (Vickers & Fuller, 92). There are many other types of suggestibility that can affect the reliability of a child's recall of events.

Experiments that involve the effects of postevent information on a prior memory representation were performed by Rovee-Collier et al (1993) involving three-month-old babies. Rovee-Collier et al stated that ".....in eyewitness testimony research, postevent information impairs retention of the original event and increases the probability that interpolated [new] information will be identified as part of the original event." The infants used in the experiments were taught to kick to cause a crib mobile to move. They were then exposed to information on a novel mobile for a short amount of time. The information received by the babies after the novel event impaired their recognition of the original mobile when it immediately followed their training. Infants treated postevent data as part of the original

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