When Children Take the Stand

There is undoubtedly an increase in the number of children involved in the judicial system either as victims (there are 500,000 children in foster care all of whom were in court last year), perpetrators (there were 1 million court involved delinquents and status offenders in 1999), and witnesses in divorce, domestic violence and other civil cases.

One of the best books on child witnesses remains Anne Graffam Walker’s Handbook On Questioning Children: A Linguistic perspective. Another good publication is Evidence in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases by John E.B. Myers.

Both of these books should be mandatory reading for anyone who questions children in court or in a forensic context. The biggest problem with children in the legal system remains the attorneys who are for the most part ill prepared and untrained in dealing with the range of issues of child witnesses.

National Law Journal — When children take the stand

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