Child Victims, Child Witnesses: Understanding and Improving Testimony / Edition 1

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With the significant surge in child sexual abuse cases reported and prosecuted in recent years, the involvement of children in legal proceedings has emerged as a matter of great public and professional debate. Confronting the major issues, questions, and dilemmas that surround this debate, the editors of Child Victims, Child Witnesses have assembled an international array of noted authorities who discuss the most current findings of child witness research. Utilizing empirically based research that is clinically relevant, they address psychological and legal viewpoints on a range of critical issues including whether or not children have the cognitive capacity to recall and report past events accurately; if children are likely to conceal or fabricate information about past events, and if they are able to resist false suggestions; how socioemotional and motivational factors influence the accuracy of children's reports, and how knowledge about children's memory can improve our understanding of their ability to testify in forensic settings; ways to enhance the likelihood of obtaining accurate information from a child witness; if jurors can accurately evaluate children's testimony, or if they are biased in ways that might hinder fair adjudication of trials involving children as witnesses; what emotional impact the involvement in legal proceedings has on child witnesses; and what special precautions and techniques can be used by courts to accommodate the needs of children - and the effect of such techniques on the accuracy of their testimony. Presenting research-based answers to these questions in a format that is accessible to wide readership, Child Victims, Child Witnesses is an invaluable reference for anyone concerned with children's testimony, from practitioners and researchers to mental health, social service, medical, and legal professionals. It also serves as a text for advanced students of psychology, social policy, and law.

This book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The most important book to date concerning children as witnesses. This book should be read by every judge and attorney concerned about child abuse. It provides a wealth of information that can be put to good use in the effort to protect abused children. Most judges and attorneys know relatively little about recent psychological research on children as witnesses. This book, more than any other, bridges the knowledge gap that too often separates psychologists from judges and attorneys." --John E.B. Myers, McGeorge School of Law

"[This] edited volume makes an important contribution to advancing knowledge, especially in clarifying strengths of children's memory and identifying strategies for improving children's memory performance. Of equal interest are the data on perceptions of children's reports which do not always coincide with children's abilities or accuracy. As this book demonstrates, problems with children's's reports about events often do not lie with children but with gaps in adult understanding and communication." --Lucy Berliner, M.S.W., Research Director, Harborview Sexual Assault Center

"Gail Goodman and Bette Bottoms give us a treasure trove of brand new psychological studies that explain whether, how, why, what, and how truthfully children remember what happens. This book not only grants invaluable help to the many professionals who bring children into court, but it provides ways to help these children. Fascinating reading for anyone interested in children's memories." --Lenore C. Terr, M.D.

"Goodman and Bottoms are two of our most thoughtful and creative scholars in the field of children's testimony. Their book and their work show how a pressing question of public policy, in the hands of thoughtful scholars, can become a key door to the exploration of a new realm of general social scientific understanding. This book provides a very accessible review of new knowledge on a range of issues related to children's testimony, and it draws out the important policy implications of that knowledge. It is a remarkable example of how to do equal justice to the standards of science and the needs of policy." --David Finkelhor, Ph.D., Co-Director, Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire

In 13 research-based but clinically relevant contributed chapters on children's testimony, international (i.e. US, Canada, UK) authorities discuss current findings of child witness research, including children's cognitive abilities in this domain, and how to optimize their performance as accurate witnesses. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898627893
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/11/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail S. Goodman, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Davis. Her research and writings on children's testimony are nationally and internationally known and have been cited in U.S. Supreme Court decisions. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association, she has served as President of its Division of Child, Youth, and Family Services. Dr. Goodman has received numerous honors and awards including the Career Research Achievement Award of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

Bette L. Bottoms, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has conducted research on issues of psychological and legal interest including the reliability of children's memory and techniques for improving children's testimony. She was the recipient of a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Department of Human Services, to study jurors' perceptions of children's testimony.

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Table of Contents

1 Developmental Perspectives on Autobiographical Recall 1
2 Cues, Props, and Context: Do They Facilitate Children's Event Reports? 25
3 The Use of Anatomical Dolls in Sexual Abuse Evaluations: Current Research and Practice 47
4 Effects of Cognitive Questioning Techniques on Children's Recall Performance 71
5 Interviewing Children in Sexual Abuse Cases 95
6 Improving Children's Testimony with Preparation 117
7 Lies and Secrets: Implications for Children's Reporting of Sexual Abuse 147
8 Discernibility or Discrimination?: Understanding Jurors' Reactions to Accurate and Inaccurate Child and Adult Eyewitnesses 169
9 Blaming the Child: Attribution of Responsibility to Victims of Child Sexual Abuse 203
10 Individual Differences in Perceptions of Child Sexual Assault Victims 229
11 The Emotional Impact of Societal Intervention into Child Abuse 263
12 Hearing and Testing Children's Evidence 279
13 Effects of Context on the Accuracy and Suggestibility of Child Witnesses 301
Index 331
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