Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Judges Think Children More Honest But Less Reliable Than Adults, Says Queen's Study

Date:
May 18, 2005
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
Judges perceive child witnesses as being more honest than adults when testifying in court, but recognize that children's limited memory and communication skills, and greater suggestibility may make them less reliable than adults.

Judges perceive child witnesses as being more honest than adults when testifying in court, but recognize that children's limited memory and communication skills, and greater suggestibility may make them less reliable than adults.

The multi-disciplinary research, the first of its kind to examine judges' perceptions of child witnesses, was led by Queen's Child and Family Law scholar Nick Bala. It addresses how judges assess the honesty and reliability of children's court testimony, and how accurate their observations are. It also makes recommendations for how to train child protection professionals and judges to most effectively frame their questions to child witnesses.

The research, to be published in next month's Alberta Law Review, has important implications for educating child-protection professionals, including judges.

The findings are based on two related studies that merge traditional legal scholarship on children's truth telling, and a national survey of child-protection professionals that assesses perceptions of child witnesses and truth telling, with judges' responses to mock interviews.

"Assessing the credibility of witnesses -- deciding how much to rely on their testimony -- is central to the trial process," says Bala. "The assessment of credibility is an inherently human and imprecise enterprise. ''

The research showed that social workers and other professionals working in child protection, and judges correctly identify children who are lying at only slightly above chance levels after watching mock interviews. Judges perform comparably to other justice system officials and significantly better than law students.

While the mock interviews don't replicate the judge's courtroom experience, "the results show that judges are not human lie detectors," says Bala.

The research also indicates that defence lawyers are more likely than prosecutors or others who work in the court system to ask children questions that are not appropriate to their developmental level. These questions use vocabulary, grammar or concepts that children could not reasonably be expected to understand. This leaves child witnesses at a disadvantage to respond honestly.

The survey asked Canadian judges about their perceptions of child and adult witnesses on such issues as suggestibility, leading questions, memory and perceptions of honesty in child witnesses. It found that children are perceived as:

  • more susceptible to suggestibility during pre-court interviews
  • more influenced by leading questions
  • less likely than adults to intentionally set out to deceive during court testimony.

Funded by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the research suggests that all new judges should be trained in how children should be questioned, and about the types of questions that children should be able to understand. Effective communication with children and developmentally appropriate questions which children can reasonably be expected to answer make them far more reliable witnesses.

To minimize the deterioration in children's memories, the delay between the reporting on an offence and the trial should be shortened, the study also recommends. Several meetings between a child witness and the Crown prosecutor before testifying will also help minimize a child's anxiety, the study notes.

###

This research is part of the Child Witness Project, an interdisciplinary study of children as witnesses by co-investigators Nicholas Bala, Roderick Lindsay, Victoria Talwar and Kang Lee.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "Judges Think Children More Honest But Less Reliable Than Adults, Says Queen's Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050518175839.htm>.
Queen's University. (2005, May 18). Judges Think Children More Honest But Less Reliable Than Adults, Says Queen's Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050518175839.htm
Queen's University. "Judges Think Children More Honest But Less Reliable Than Adults, Says Queen's Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050518175839.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins