CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Wylie et al. on Questioning Child Witnesses

Breanne WylieStacia StolzenbergKelly McWilliamsAngela D. Evans and Thomas D. Lyon (Brock University, Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Criminology & Criminal Justice, City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Institute of Child Study (Brock University) and University of Southern California Gould School of Law) have posted Young Children's Ability to Describe Intermediate Clothing Placement (Forthcoming in Child Maltreatment) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Children’s ability to adequately describe clothing placement is essential to evaluating their allegations of sexual abuse. Intermediate clothing placement (partially removed clothing) may be difficult for young children to describe, requiring more detailed explanations to indicate the location of clothing (e.g., the clothes were pulled down to the knees). The current study investigated 172 3- to 6-year-olds’ descriptions of clothing placement when responding to commonly used questions (yes/no, forced-choice, open-choice, where), as well as children’s on-off response tendencies when describing intermediate placement (i.e.., labeling the clothing as fully on or off). Results revealed that "where" questions were superior in eliciting intermediate descriptions, even for the youngest children. Children sometimes exhibited tendencies to describe intermediate placements as “on” or “off,” which varied by question-type and clothing placement. The implications of the findings for interviewing young children about sexual abuse are discussed.

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