chapter  4
34 Pages

Interviewing Child Victim-Witnesses: How You Ask Is What You Get

This excerpt from the Georgia Code of Statutes illustrates a serious fallacy in the construction of our judicial system. The western legal system is structured by and for fully functioning adults who often do not take the perspectives and limitations of others into account. A prime example is the child victim-witness. Children who enter into the legal system are accosted by strangers who use language they cannot understand (Brennan & Brennan, 1988; Perry et aI., 1995; Saywitz, Jaenicke, & Camparo, 1990) to demand information they may be reluctant to give. Should they be unable to relate their accounts in the format adults expect, children may be considered unreliable and therefore may be excluded from further legal proceedings.