Parent-child discussions of crime

Warren, Kelly L. (Kelly Lynn) (2011) Parent-child discussions of crime. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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When children witness or experience criminal events, the first people they go to are generally their parents. No one is privy to these conversations, and consequently, very little is known about their specific content. Research has shown that merely saying something in children's presence may be sufficient for children to incorporate information into their event recall (Pezdek & Roe, 1997), which is particularly problematic when the information incorporated is incorrect. Once children's event memory has been changed, regardless of the skill of an interviewer, children may be unable to provide accurate reports (Thompson, Clarke-Stewart, & Lepore, 1997). It is important then to assess parent-child interactions about events. In the present study, seven- to ten-year-old children watched one of two videos of a theft and talked about the video with either a parent or a trained interviewer. In Part I of the study, the types of questions parents asked and children's incorporation of parent-suggested information into their recall was assessed. Results showed that: (a) parents relied heavily on yes/no and direct questions, (b) children made errors of commission in response to parent questions, (c) very few parents asked leading or misleading questions, (d) all children incorporated correct information suggested by parents, and (e) few children incorporated incorrect information suggested by parents. In Part II, parent-child interviews were compared to interviews conducted with a second group of children by trained interviewers, after watching the same videos. Results showed that (a) children provided more information in response to trained interviewers, (b) there was no difference in overall or peripheral accuracy, but children were more accurate in their provision of central information when interviewed by a trained interviewer as opposed to a parent. In Part II, the influence of an early parent-child interview on children's recall in later interviews with a trained interviewer was also assessed. Half of the children were interviewed an additional time immediately following the video and all children were interviewed one week later. Parent interviews aided the accuracy of children's peripheral recall. The results imply that the influence of simple one-time parent-child discussions on seven- to ten-year-olds recall for events recently witnessed by these children may be minimal, particularly when there has been no opportunity for extended or repeated discussions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 9669
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 121-135.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: 2011
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Child witnesses; Parent and child; Memory in children

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