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Prosecuting Child Abuse

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1988
19 pages
Separate articles examine various issues relating to the involvement of child sexual and physical abuse victims in criminal proceedings.
A review is presented of several studies examining the use of anatomically correct dolls for interviewing and assessing the behavior of sexually abused and nonabused children in using such dolls to report an event. Results of a study of age-related patterns of memory errors in children's testimony are provided, and their implications for prosecution are discussed in relation to trial practices of direct and cross-examination. Also reviewed are several laboratory studies of factors affecting children's recall (e.g., stress, delay period, questioning techniques) and biases against the credibility of child testimony among mock jurors. Two additional studies are summarized that examined factors contributing to the reliability of sexual abuse allegations in custody disputes and in cases reported to social services. Also examined are studies of grade-related trends in children's comprehension of legal terms of varying degrees of difficulty, the effects of investigative and litigation practices and procedures on child sexual abuse victims, and the self-reported sex crimes of nonincarcerated paraphiliacs.

Date Published: January 1, 1988