Child abuse is the act of inflicting pain either psychologically or physically on a child who has no power over the person mistreating them. Child abuse can take the form of physical abuse, neglect, mental injury and sexual abuse. Physical abuse can be accidental or intended and it mostly varies with the explanations given for its cause. The worst form of child abuse is in form of sexual abuse which includes rape, sodomy, and incest, penetration with a foreign object, pornography, and prostitution.
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In any form of abuse the child testimony is very important because in most cases there are usually no third parties to act as the key witnesses making it very crucial. However, other forms of Possible Physical Indicators in abused children include, difficult in walking and sitting, bruises, bleeding or infection in external genitalia, vagina or anal areas in case of sexual method.
The biggest problem with child testimony is that it is the only crime where the accused remains guilty until they prove beyond any doubt that they are innocent. This is because if a child says it happened, then the burden of proof is left wholly on the accused, but not on the accuser. A successful solution to any allegation charge either true or false amounts to proper legal counsel, documentation of all what happened is also very important in providing your innocence.
Research indicates that a child memory explains accurately and that they are less likely to develop false memories of situations than adults are and the remembrance of what happened increases with age.
In some cases such as sexual abuse cases the victim is often the only witness to the crime. However, the continued memories may have great psychological impacts on the child and they may at times get confused because of being frequently.
Compared to adults, children do not often go through interviews process in a way that is made to elicit unreliable information such as suggestive and leading questions aimed to corroborate accusations rather than investigate the abused child. To avoid such videotape child interviews became very important to monitor the questioning.
Many young children are not able to maintain a credible story of what really happened when they were abused. Thus during interviewing many children learn what the interviewer expects of them and continued rehearsal over a period of times reinforces their trial testimony. Mostly, a child comes to believe of their allegations upon positive reinforcement they receive during such trials; they thus require gentleness during interview.
A child’s testimony only becomes credible when they have been led and reinforced to believe in it. This is because a child’s ability to collect and process information is different from that of an adult and the level of internalizing is also very different making the whole process of child testimony not very credible although their contributions are very important in determining the outcomes of any abuse against them.
At times the credibility of abuse is determined by other indicative behaviors a child portrays and in their absence it becomes very difficult for the so-called experts to completely hypothesis the state of the affected child.
The credibility of a child’s testimony is highly depended on reliability, that describes whether the abused child is in a position to appear and competently testify and whether and whether the witness can be relied on or whether they are just factual. A child testimony may appear credible yet not reliable because their statements have been tainted by outside sources such as the investigators and the convicted persons.
Child testimony in abuse cases may lack credible because the child may not be able to understand trial procedures that are designed. The atmosphere within the courtroom may be threatening, confusing and frightening for children to effective deliver their testimony due to additional emotional stress as a result from direct testimony in public. The child may misperceive the further cross-examination as insensitive and repetitive as further abused children. Such face-to-face confrontation with the perpetrator may be preserved as additional trauma by the child testifying.
In conclusion, it is important to recognize that young children have special needs and their unique modes of self-expression which should not be abused during child testimony. To ensure that children do not get more abused its important that a reasonable limit on the number of times a child is interviewed is set and the contents of the interview recorded or videotape. I my opinion, child psychiatrists and other trained adults must always support and interpret the children during testimony and as well as during investigations. Important to consider in any child abuse testimony are; the child’s competency to testify and the credibility of the child's allegation, the child’s emotional levels when disturbed, whether the child is able to cope with the stress when giving testimony.
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