The interviewing and preparation of child witnesses for legal purposes.
The thesis focused on three areas in the child eyewitness literature that have
received limited research attention: (1) the use of props to facilitate children's
recall; (2) the effect of individual differences (in particular ethnicity) on children's
recall; and (3) the preparation of children for court. Three recently developed
prop-based techniques designed to facilitate children's recall were evaluated.
The felt board technique did not significantly increase children correct (and
erroneous) free recall, thus supporting the previous limited research (Poole,
1992). The auditory feedback technique also did not significantly increase
children's correct (and erroneous) additional recall, though descriptive analyses
suggested this technique to be most beneficial for older children. The pictorial
cue cards technique did not significantly increase children's correct (and
erroneous) free recall. Descriptive analyses revealed that children who were
instructed in how to use the cue cards provided more correct free recall and
less erroneous free recall than children who practised using the cue cards
before the interview. Children'S ethnicity and interviewer's ethnicity were not
found to significantly effect children's recall but did have some effect on
children's response to questioning. The findings of the interview studies
suggested that greater attention needs to be given to the examination of how
individual differences affect children's recall.
Professionals who were surveyed about their views and experience of
preparation of child witnesses for court were found to be aware of the systeminduced
trauma suffered by child witnesses and thus the need to support them
with preparation. Overall, professionals' experience suggested that child
witnesses received preparation that was often insufficient and variable in
quality. The survey findings highlighted the need for further research in this
neglected area and for better training and greater resources for professionals
tasked with supporting child witnesses.