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PSYC 2400 Study Guide - Physical Abuse, Psychological Abuse, Advanced Maternal Age

Course Code
PSYC 2400
Jenelle Power

of 13
Child victims and witness
Risks of testifying
-Usually abused by people they trust
-Child victims must cope with emotional consequences of criminal acts & potentially
traumatizing effects of legal involvement
-Children who experience sexual abuse & testify in court have more problems during the
trial and those who don’t testify
-Express facing accused as biggest fear
-Poorer mental health ~12 later
Especially for repeated testifying in severe cases
Worse when younger at time of trial
Model of stress factors for child witnesses (Spencer & Fin, 1993 )
Stressors Mediators
Crime Preparation
Pre-trial Age
Trial Social Support & family reaction
Post-trial Personality
-Fear of having to confront the person who hurt them
-Could feel guilty or like they didn’t do a good job if the suspect isn’t convicted
-More stressful for younger kids
Courtroom Accommodations
1. Screen/shield
2. Closed-circuit television
CCTV – child not in same room as defendant – broadcast testimony
3. Support person
In Canada its only if the kid has already testified
4. Pre-recorded video testimony
5. Hearsay
Other trials can’t have hearsay admitted, but for children it can. Ex: child goes to
teacher and tells them what is going on, the teacher can testify
6. Close courtroom to public/media
-Available for all children cases
-Children likely to say less if with the defendant in the same room
-Judge and jury more likely to believe the child if they see them
Testifying in Court
-Competency inquiry required for kids under 14 until 2006 in Canada
Presume children can testify
Simple questions about past events
Ability to understand and respond
Promise to tell the truth
-In the U.S. and some European countries they also have this competency test
Behind Closed Doors
-1998 and 2003 rate of substantiated child abuse increased by 125%
9.6/1000 to 21.7/1000
-Due to more awareness of what is appropriate behavior, expanded definition, chances in
policy/legislation, getting better at interviewing children
Child Maltreatment
Type Description Examples
Physical Application of force to a child to cause injury Shaking, biting, poisoning
Sexual An adult uses a child for sexual purposes Exploitation, fondling
Neglect A child is not provided with requisite attention to
meet the child’s needs
Failure to provide nutrition, clothes
Emotional Acts or omissions that could cause serious harm to a
Terrorizing, social isolation
Exposure to family
Allow a child to be aware of violence occurring
between a caregiver and his/her partner or between
other family members
Seeing bruises or physical injuries on the
caregiver, overhear violent episodes
-Age 2 – 13, can use some corporal punishment (no hit to face of head)
-Neglect includes basic safety (drunk driving, inappropriate care)
-Emotional includes ignoring them
-Exposure to family violence – could lose the custody of the child
Corporal punishment: Discipline or physical abuse?
-“The basic argument is that children are people, and hitting people is wrong.” Peter
Newell, 1989
-Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada, 2004
Upheld the right for parents to use physical discipline
-UN trying to ban it by 2009
Hasn’t happened, still legal in Canada even though studies say half the population is
against it
-New rules:
Can’t use objects, teachers can’t use corporal punishment, can’t be above the neck, do
it only for trying to change behavior, if the child can’t understand that it’s for
discipline (ex. handicap) then you can’t use it
Gershoff (2002): No Positive Effects
-A meta-analysis of 88 studies on corporal punishment
-Children who were physically punished:
more mental health problems
less positive relationships with their parents
lower levels of moral internalization