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Chapter 6

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PSYC 2400
Jenelle Power

Forensic PsychologyChapter 6Child Victims and WitnessesHistoryThe prevailing legal attitude toward child witnesses for the following 300 years after the Salem trials was that of scepticismYoung children were highly suggestible and had difficulty separating fact from fantasy and thus were capable of providing inaccurate testimony even if the testimony was of personal significanceThere are four factors that led to the renewed interest in child witnessesExpert psychological testimony more acceptable in the courtroomSocial scientists were interested in research that could be applied to realworld problemsStudies on adult eyewitness testimony were increasingThe legal community became interested in behavioural science research regarding child witnessesRecall for EventsChildren do not make very reliable witnesses even about events they supposedly experiencedChildren are capable of accurately recalling forensically relevant details of eventsThe challenge is determining when children are recalling accurately and when they are fabricatingFree Recall versus Directed QuestioningWhen children are asked to report all they can remember using a free narrative approach their accuracy in reporting is comparable with that of adultsChildren tend to report very little information using a free narrativeWhen children are asked leading direct questions they are more likely to produce an erroneous response than when they are asked nonleading direct questionsOlder children are more resistant to leading questions than are younger children and adults are even more resistant to leading questionsDirect questions that require yes or no responses or use a forcedchoice format are particularly problematic for preschoolersYesno questions are particularly problematicThis may be the case because these questions rely on recognition rather than recall thus increasing the likelihood of errorUsing recall may elicit brief responses but those responses are more likely to be accurateWhy are Children more Suggestible than AdultsTwo directions have been taken to understand childrens greater propensity toward suggestibility
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