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How Reliable is the Eyewitness Testimony from Children? Eve Partic-Gray S5108367 1010CCJ Introduction to Forensic Psychology Due Date: 12/01/2020 Word Count: 1833
Eve Partic-Gray s5108367 Within the criminal justice system, there is a common issue which arises consistently, which is the reliability and the credibility of witnesses. More specifically, when the witness is a child, concerns centred around the child’s capability to provide an accurate testimony with confidence it is the truth. Over time, there is one main question which plagues the criminal justice system; just how reliable is a child’s eyewitness testimony? There have been multitudes of research, studies, reviews and debates around this topic, most commonly in Western civilisation to determine the underlying truth. To understand the cause for concern surrounding eyewitness testimony, this essay will primarily focus on what defines reliable eyewitness testimony, and if children are capable of providing this. Determining the definition of an eyewitness and eyewitness testimony, will provide insight as to how testimony from a child might be used within the criminal justice system, specifically, within Australia. Subsequently, a discussion focussing on the issues and improving reliability of children eyewitness testimony will follow. As a result of the discussion, evidence will be provided to confirm the reliability of evidence from children, which will argue the point that children can provide reliable eyewitness testimony under the appropriate circumstances. An eyewitness is often defined as an individual who has witnessed a crime and can describe what occurred first-hand in-depth and with upmost accuracy. When the eyewitness is required to recount the event which they saw, it is referred to as an eyewitness testimony. Eyewitness testimony is critical within the criminal justice system, as it can provide valuable information regarding identification of perpetrators, details of the crime scene as well as confirmation of the events timeline. However, when a case involves eyewitness testimony, there is concern surrounding the reliability and the accuracy of the eyewitnesses account of events which occurred. According to Nayak and Khajuria (2019), the accuracy of an eyewitness’s testimony is affected by various factors including age, stress level, health 2
Eve Partic-Gray s5108367 conditions, cognitive states and racial or personal bias. Within Australia, a minor is considered to be an individual who is under the age of eighteen, thus if an individual has witnessed an event and they are under eighteen years of age, they are considered a child eyewitness. Due to the age of children eyewitnesses, reliability and accuracy of the testimony provided is considered inferior. Judges are required by law to determine if a minor under the age of fourteen understands the oath within the courts of Australia. If the child understands the nature of the oath, the child’s evidence and testimony is admitted as evidence within the case. However, if

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