ERIC Number: ED390517
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993
Reference Count: N/A
Child Witnesses: Translating Research into Policy.
Ceci, Stephen J.; Bruck, Maggie
Social Policy Report, v7 n3 Fall 1993
This report provides an overview of the research on the testimony of young children in cases of sexual abuse, focusing on preschoolers' presumed suggestibility and the role of researchers and mental health professionals as expert witnesses in such cases. It does so in light of the McMartin preschool case, in which seven defendants were acquitted, after 7 years of legal proceedings, of having sexually abused a large number of preschoolers. The report examines the prevalence of child sexual abuse and the increasing acceptance by the courts of uncorroborated testimony by young children. Research is reviewed on the degree to which very young children are prone to suggestion, concluding that the most recent studies are more often ambivalent about the reliability of children's reports than earlier studies. However, recent studies suggest that there are reliable age differences in suggestibility, with preschoolers' reports more influenced by erroneous suggestions than older children's reports. Policy implications of suggestibility research are also discussed, including what expert witnesses should tell the court, the qualifications of expert witnesses, the relationship of research to clinical practice, and the role of professional organizations. (Contains 98 references.) (MDM)
Descriptors: Age Differences, Child Abuse, Court Litigation, Incidence, Literature Reviews, Public Policy, Reliability, Sexual Abuse, Social Science Research, Young Children
SRCD Executive Office, University of Michigan, 300 North Ingalls, 10th Floor, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0406 ($3.50 for single issue; subscriptions available to nonmembers of SRCD at $12.50).
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serials
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Child Health and Human Development (NIH), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: Society for Research in Child Development.