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9 Child victims and witness.docx

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Carleton University
PSYC 2400
Jenelle Power

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 - Currently: • 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 Achild is not provided with requisite attention to Failure to provide nutrition, clothes meet the child’s needs Emotional Acts or omissions that could cause serious harm to a Terrorizing, social isolation child Exposure to family Allow a child to be aware of violence occurring Seeing bruises or physical injuries on the violence between a caregiver and his/her partner or between caregiver, overhear violent episodes other family members - 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 - Ameta-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 • increased levels of aggression • more delinquency behavior - Doesn’t teach children why what they’re doing is bad (mainly to avoid getting spanked) - Hitting a child may teach them that hitting is okay How common is Child Abuse? - Incidence- how much behavior happens in a specified amount of time • Number of new maltreatment cases in a specific population during a given time period - Prevalence- as of today, how many people have ever experienced this behavior • Proportion of a population at a specific point in time that was maltreated during childhood Canadian Incidence Study of Reported ChildAbuse and Neglect (2008) - 15,980 child maltreatment investigations in a representative sample of 112 Child Welfare Service - 14 substantiated cases per 1,000 children - Neglect and exposure to partner violence most common Risk factors in care-giver for abuse of child - Care-giver may also be being abused - Alot of these factors go together - More common in lower socioeconomic status families (Poverty is related to abuse) (mostly on reserves) - Hard to find appropriate attachment to others • Too clingy or too distant Risk Factors: PhysicalAbuse - Child • Male (more likely to experience physical abuse than females) - Parent • Young maternal age • Single-parent • History of childhood physical abuse • Spousal assault • Unplanned pregnancy/negative attitude • History of substance abuse • Lack of social support - Social • Low socioeconomic status • Large family - Risk factors = increases the chance of it happening, doesn’t mean it will happen (just more likely to be abused) Risk Factors: SexualAbuse - Child • Female (More common with females, but may not be reported as much with males) - Parent • Living in a family without a biological parent • Poor relationship between parents • Presence of a step-father • Poor child-parent relationship Identified perpetrator (percentages of cases not on test, just that the parents usually involved) Type Biological/ Biological/ Others Step-Father Step-Mother Physical abuse 50% 53% 12% Neglect 45% 84% 8% Emotional abuse 56% 66% 14% Sexual abuse 22% 5% 73% Exposure to domestic 88% 28%
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