What Do Children Know about the Legal System and When Do They Know It? First Steps Down a Less Traveled Path in Child Witness Research

  • Amye Warren-Leubecker
  • Carol S. Tate
  • Ivora D. Hinton
  • I. Nicky Ozbek


The likelihood that an American child will participate in the legal system in some fashion has increased exponentially in recent years. From 1955 to 1975, juvenile crime rose in the United States by 1600 percent (Footlick, 1977). During those same years, more than half of all crimes were committed by juveniles (Uniform Crime Reports for the United States, 1975). Divorce increased 700 percent between 1900 and 1977, to the point that half of the children born in the 1970s have spent at least part of their childhood in a one-parent home (Keniston, 1977). Reports of child physical abuse increased 142 percent between 1976 and 1983, and an estimated 71, 961 American children were reported to be sexually abused in 1983 (American Association for Protecting Children, 1985). These statistics serve to highlight the fact that American children are more likely than ever to be confronted with the legal system; either as witnesses in abuse or custody cases, defendants in juvenile crime cases, or perhaps even plaintiffs in actions against their own parents or guardians (Westman, 1979).


Legal System Moral Reasoning Child Physical Abuse Legal Concept Uniform Crime Report 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amye Warren-Leubecker
  • Carol S. Tate
  • Ivora D. Hinton
  • I. Nicky Ozbek

There are no affiliations available

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