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Can Children Provide Reliable Eyewitness Testimony? A Paper on Successful Interviewing Techniques and Accurate Memory RecallCan Children Provide Reliable Eyewitness Testimony? A Paper on SuccessfulInterviewing Techniques and Accurate Memory Recall Jade O’HalloranGriffith University QueenslandStudent Number:S2771790Course:1010CCJTutor: Tracy MeehanDue Date:02 February 2020Date Submitted: 30 January 2020Word Count:1872
21010CCJ 2019Can Children Provide Reliable Eyewitness Testimony?Children. The world’s most vulnerable demographic. When thinking about crime against children, feelings of disgust, anger and fear are often felt. It’s natural for humans to protect those less capable than they are. But what happens when children must identify alleged suspects of criminal behaviour? Can they be a reliable source of information to help catch the suspect? Whilst there is an extensive amount of information available to be discussed, this paper will briefly define eyewitness testimony, outline the role of child eyewitness testimony within the Criminal Justice System, discuss best practice questioning and interview techniques to produce credible testimony from children and explain how reliability of memory recall can be affected by these techniques. Overall, this paper endeavours to provide evidence to support the argument that under the right circumstances, children are more than capable of giving reliable eyewitness testimony.Firstly, what is eyewitness testimony? According to Saul McLeod (2018, para 1) of Psychology Today, “Eyewitness testimony is a legal term. It refers to an account given by people of an event they have witnessed.” This definition basically means that eyewitness testimony is a personal account of an event that a person has been involved in. In relation to the Criminal Justice System, eyewitness testimony is extremely critical to necessitate affective criminal trials (Quigley- McBride, and Wells, 2016) and in fact, eyewitness testimony is much regarded as the deciding factor for conviction in criminal trials (Wells and Olsen, 2003). This includes child eyewitness testimony and the key to conviction sometimes solely rests on the shoulders of that child and the interviewers that establish that testimony (Goodman, Golding, Helgesen, Haith and Michelli, 1987). Eyewitness testimony relies on theTRUE and ACCURATE personal account of what happened to someone. However, as
3researchers have found, this information is not always reliable (Brainerd and Reyna, 2012) and research shows that with the latest developments in DNA evidence, convictions made solely based on eyewitness testimony have resulted in false convictions and incarceration (Wells and Olsen, 2003) .Expanding on this, children giving eyewitness testimony within the Criminal Justice System is sensitive and difficult to ascertain due to the nature of the crimes they are reporting.