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Lecture 17

PSYC 376 Lecture 17: PSYC 376 Quiz Long Answer

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PSYC 376
Trishia Coburn

PSYC 376 Experimental Psychology Unit 1: History of Children and the Law Question 1 (10 pts) Describe the first recorded case in American jurisprudence involving children as witnesses and discuss its implications. The Salem Witch trials (1) were the first recorded case in American Jurisprudence of children as witnesses. During the final decade of the 1600s, 19 defendants in Salem Massachusetts were convicted of being witches and put to death. A dozen others admitted their participation in witchcraft and begged for mercy. (1 pt for description of the case). The primary witnesses against many of the defendants were a group of young girls between the ages of 5 and 16 years old. (1) They testified that the witches had flown on broomsticks, instructed insects to deposit pins in their stomachs, and appeared as talking animals, among other things. (1) The children did not independently and spontaneously generate these heinous allegations; they were caught up in circumstances that made it possible for such outrageous allegations to be heard and believed. (1) First, 17th century Salem believed strongly in the presence and power of witches. (1) Second, there was a strong belief in the innocence of children, due, in part, to the belief that children had not yet been tainted by the evils of humanity and so were able to recognize evil when in its presence. (1) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the children were subjected to potent and persistent suggestive questioning by adult. (1) Ceci and Bruck (1995) argued that these cases had a profound and longlasting effect on attitudes towards children as witnesses in criminal court. (1) In fact, until the late 1980s, children were functionally barred from testifying in criminal court. (1) Question 2 (14 pts) Van Tongeren Harvey and Dauns (2001) stated that [b]efore 1982, sexual offences involving children were virtually impossible to prosecute to conviction p 148). Describe the three primary obstacles to successful prosecution of cases involving sexual offences against children. Your Answer: The recent complaint doctrine (1): Briefly, this doctrine stated that if a victim of sexual assault (1), whether a child or adult, (1) did not complain at the first opportunity after the assault (1), the trier of fact was required to draw an adverse inference with respect to credibility or consent. (1) Judicial warning: (1) Courts were required to warn triers of fact of the dangers of convicting on the uncorroborated evidence (1) of an unsworn child (1). This rule was strict and required acquittal in the absence of independent corroborating evidence (1) even if the trier of fact was otherwise convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the truth of the charge. (1) This rule would have been particularly oppressive for CSA victims because, often, in these cases there is no corroborative evidence (1) and most children testify as unsworn witnesses (1) Attitudinal barrier (1): A pervasive belief that the evidence of children is inherently unreliable, particularly in allegations of sexual assault. (1) Question 3 (7 pts) What is the Badgely Report and what role did it play in legal changes to the admissibility of childrens evidence? Justice Canada (1) commissioned this study to investigate the prevalence and incidence of child sexual abuse (1) and to review legal responses to the problem. (1) After a very extensive and thorough investigation, they concluded that one in four females and one in 10 males was the victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18 years (1) and that a legal remedy was virtually inaccessible to child victims. (1) Legal changes began to occur almost immediately (1) and, arguably, at lightening speed, relative to many other legal changes. (1) Question 4 (5 pts)
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