Getting Out of a Rut: Detours to Less Traveled Paths in Child-Witness Research

  • Gary B. Melton
  • Ross A. Thompson


As public interest in child maltreatment (especially sexual abuse) has risen markedly in the past two or three years, so too has professional attention to the problem. Much of the professional discussion has focused on problems of children’s interaction with the legal system. Especially acute issues arise from efforts to balance responses to children’s purported vulnerability as eyewitnesses with constitutional guarantees of due process for the defendant and traditional reservations about the competency of children’s testimony. Such issues have been addressed by numerous blue-ribbon groups: among them, the Attorney General’s Task Force on Family Violence (1984), the Justice Department’s (1984) national symposium on child molestation, the national symposium on child sexual abuse sponsored by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in 1985, and the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime (1982). Congress (Missing Children’s Assistance Act of 1984; Senate Subcommittee, 1984) has indicated a need for increased sensitivity to the needs of child victim/witnesses, and state legislatures have issued a plethora of new statutes governing children’s testimony (Bulkley, 1985, 1986). The American Bar Association (1985) has adopted guidelines for “fair treatment” of child witnessess who allegedly have been abused.


Child Sexual Abuse Travel Path Legal Process Child Victim Eyewitness Testimony 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary B. Melton
  • Ross A. Thompson

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