Student Independent Projects Psychology 2015:The Effect of Fear on Children’s Eyewitness Testimony

Collins, Olivia (2015) Student Independent Projects Psychology 2015:The Effect of Fear on Children’s Eyewitness Testimony. Research Report. Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

As a child testifies against an offender, fear is to be expected, when additional fear is added from the interview/ trial process, negative effects begin to emerge. The key understanding of this paper is to determine what effects added fear has on the child’s testimony, as well as their well-being and ways to reduce the additional fear. By assessing what aspect of the testimony gives the child added fear and makes them feel uncomfortable is the first step to identifying ways to adapt techniques that best suit the child in question. Asking particular questions, surroundings in the interview room, placing the child in court, and facing the offender are all aspects which add fear and anxiety on a child witness. Knowing this, we can then look at ways to protect the child in both the interview and in the courtroom. Adapting simple questions as well as letting the child play during the interview will reduce fear. In the courtroom, allowing the use of pre-recorded testimonies as well as live links will eliminate face-to-face contact with the offender, thus reducing fear. Once the effects of additional fear and ways to reduce it have been assessed, I will then take you through positive and negative long-term effects of the added fear on a child witness. Many violent crimes happen in the presence of children or to them directly. In order to put a criminal behind bars, a witness needs to testify, and in many cases, the witness is a child. Under the appropriate circumstances, majority of children are capable of giving a reliable eye-witness testimony. I am interested in researching the emotions of a child witness, more specifically additional fear that a child experiences during the testimony process. Children are usually nervous, anxious, and not fully aware of what is happening, which suggests that interviews and courtroom testimonies need to be carried out with more care and patience. The process of child eye witness testimonies can have a lasting effect on the child if not done properly. I will be looking at aspects and techniques of one-on-one and courtroom testimonies. This research will indicate the amount of fear and anxiety a child has in response to those techniques and how the fear experienced may foreshadow long-term effects brought on by the process. This paper aims to determine what particular aspects of the trial experience may induce added fear on the child, as well as ways to avoid. I will also be looking at techniques developed to ensure the amount of added fear is reduced significantly by looking at the interview process as well as the courtroom testimony. I will then discuss potential long-term effects the child may experience.

Item Type: Report (Research Report)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11849
Item ID: 11849
Department(s): Grenfell Campus > Division of Social Science > Psychology
Date: 2015
Date Type: Submission

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