Chapter

Child Witnesses’ Experiences of Distress in Criminal Court: Sources, Consequences, and Solutions

Elizabeth Rush, Jodi A. Quas and Bradley D. McAuliff

in Stress, Trauma, and Wellbeing in the Legal System

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199829996
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199301492 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199829996.003.0005

Series: American Psychology-Law Society Series

Child Witnesses’ Experiences of Distress in Criminal Court: Sources, Consequences, and Solutions

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Psychologists and legal scholars debate whether direct involvement in criminal court proceedings serves as a form of secondary victimization to children victims. Research has revealed which aspects of children’s legal experiences have been linked to children’s distress and ability to communicate in court. These include testifying multiple times, enduring repeated interviews, not understanding the court process, enduring lengthy cases, and experiencing unfavorable case outcomes. Research has also identified novel practices that can reduce children’s distress and improve their communication without adversely affecting case outcomes. Techniques that hold the most promise include pre-trial educational programs designed to enhance children’s understanding of the legal case, use of support persons, and procedures that reduce the number of times children are interviewed or the need for children to testify in open court. Finally, the chapter outlines the implications of extant findings for policy and practice and key directions for future research.

Keywords: stress; trauma; wellbeing; courts; legal system; child; witness; innovations

Chapter.  15537 words. 

Subjects: Criminal and Forensic Psychology

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