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ERIC Number: ED398465
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Apr-9
Pages: 26
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Contextual Influences on Children's Testimony.
Nathanson, Rebecca; Saywitz, Karen
With mandatory reporting of child abuse, children are becoming involved more frequently in the judicial system, a system that is often unresponsive to the needs and limitations of young children. This investigation explored the effect of courtroom environment on the quality of evidence children offer and the level of system-induced stress that they experience. Eighty-one 8- to-10-year-olds participated in a classroom activity and 2 weeks later were questioned regarding their memory for the activity. The children (44 males, 37 females) were recruited from public elementary schools in a middle to upper middle class suburban area in Southern California. Half were questioned in a courtroom and half were questioned in a small, private room. Memory performance, state anxiety, perceptions of court-related stress, and heart rate patterns were compared across interview conditions. Data suggest that a child's ability to provide complete, accurate testimony may be affected by the psychological and physical setting in which the evidence is elicited. Impaired free recall and more reactive heart rate patterns, indicative of a stress response, were associated in the courtroom setting in comparison to a small private room. It is suggested that innovative methods for preparing child witnesses and for modifying standard courtroom procedures to provide an opportunity for children to testify to the best of their ability. Contains 25 references and 3 tables. (JBJ)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A