Unwarranted assumptions about children's testimonial accuracy


We examine eight unwarranted assumptions made by expert witnesses, forensic interviewers, and legal scholars about the reliability of children's eyewitness reports. The first four assumptions modify some central beliefs about the nature of suggestive interviews, age-related differences in resistance to suggestion, and thresholds necessary to produce tainted reports. The fifth unwarranted assumption involves the influence of both individual and interviewer factors in determining children's suggestibility. The sixth unwarranted assumption concerns the claim that suggested reports are detectable. The seventh unwarranted assumption concerns new findings about how children deny, disclose, and/or recant their abuse. Finally, we examine unwarranted statements about the value of science to the forensic arena. It is important not only for researchers but also expert witnesses and court-appointed psychologists to be aware of these unwarranted assumptions.



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