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The utilization of special procedures for the child witness: A pilot study (Florida, New York, California)

Posted on:2005-03-27Degree:Psy.DType:Dissertation
University:Alliant International University, San Francisco BayCandidate:Wenman, Brooke AFull Text:PDF
This study investigated the rates of use of the closed-circuit television procedure for the child sexual abuse victim by attorneys versus live testimony and the factors influencing the attorneys' decision in this process. The factors included knowledge of child development, sexual abuse, and cultural differences amongst child victims. The sparse literature on the utilization of this procedure, benefits and limitations, suggested that little was formerly known about the procedure and under what circumstances it was employed. Initially, there appeared to be a theme that emerged in the research on attorneys' views of live versus closed-circuit testimony with children and a bias towards live testimony. The assumption appeared that live testimony was inherently more honest, accurate and consistent. However, there had been no empirical studies to support or deny those beliefs to date. Additionally attorneys' opinions and beliefs expressed in articles and literature on sexual abuse with children had indicated a fairly antiquated and insensitive perspective on children recovering from sexual abuse and their ability to remain emotionally stable during the trial process. This study recruited, through individual mailings, 27 attorneys who have represented child sexual abuse victims (CSA) and who currently serve as district attorneys in the states of Florida, New York, and California. All participants completed a demographic questionnaire and Assessment of Awareness of Victim Psychology (AAVP) survey.; This AAVP measure was created due to the lack of instruments available to assess the factors believed to influence the attorneys' decision to employ CCTV. Responses were evaluated using a computerized statistical package, SPSS, version 10.0 (SPSS Professional Statistics, 1994). Analysis included descriptive statistics of participant responses and demographic variables. In addition, reliability analysis, t-test, and cross-tabulation was conducted on response data from the AAVP.; Results indicated that attorneys were not utilizing CCTV and that the factors assumed to influence such use of CCTV were not demonstrated within the data. However, an unexpected finding was that the attorney's knowledge of child development, sexual trauma, and cultural differences in the expression of trauma reflected the current research in the field.; Discussion of these findings included similarities and differences amongst participant responses as well as observations concerning the limitations of this research. Suggestions for future research were offered in the hope that this pilot study would provide a platform for future investigation of this available, but underutilized alternative to live testimony.
Keywords/Search Tags:Child, Sexual abuse, Procedure, Live testimony, Attorneys
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