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Tell it like an adult? Evaluations of pre-schoolers testimonies in court

Conference contribution
Authors Emelie Ernberg
Sara Landström
Published in The 11th meeting of the NNPL, Reykjavik (Iceland) October 30-31, 2015
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Child Sexual Abuse, Legal Decision Making, Credibility Judgements, Childrens Testimonies
Subject categories Psychology, Applied Psychology

Abstract

Child sexual abuse (CSA) cases are notoriously difficult for the legal system to handle, especially when the victim is a pre-schooler. Credibility assessments made by Swedish courts require a complainant’s testimony to be long, clear, coherent, logical, detailed and not contain any equivocal statements. There are no age limits to applying these criteria, meaning that testimonies given by pre-schoolers can be evaluated at these standards. So far, no studies have been conducted as to what extent these criteria are being used to evaluate the testimonies of pre-schoolers, nor to how the assessment of these criteria affect the outcome in court. The present study uses 130 CSA court cases dating from 2010 to 2015, all involving pre-school victims. The court cases will be coded for use of the credibility criteria, type and length of abuse, relationship between the complainant and defendant, length and number of child interviews, the court’s assessment of the child interview(s) and type of evidence available. This information will be analysed in relation to the outcome in court. Preliminary results from the analysis of 50 court cases will be presented.

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