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Long-Term Memory in Adults Exposed to Childhood Violence: Remembering Genital Contact Nearly 20 Years Later

NCJ Number
Date Published
16 pages
Because recent changes in statutes of limitations for crimes against children permit accusations of decades-old child sexual abuse to be considered in court, this study addressed the accuracy of long-term memory of genital contact.
in order to examine the theoretical, clinical, and legal concerns about long-term memory accuracy, children who in the 1990s (Time 1) were 3 to 17 years old and experienced a documented child maltreatment medical examination that included genital touch were interviewed between 2012 and 2014 (Time 2), as adults, about the medical experience. Almost half of the adults reported the childhood genital contact. Child sexual abuse and greater depression in adulthood predicted greater memory accuracy. No participant falsely reported chargeable offenses that did not occur, even when such offenses had been falsely suggested in a childhood interview. Some participants erred regarding specific and misleading questions implying less egregious acts. Ramifications for theory and application are discussed. (publisher abstracts modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019