READINGS:The Little Rascals case and the Believability of Children

Jeopardy in the Courtroom - A Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony by Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck, American Psychological Association, 1995.

  • PREFACE ....in analyzing the challenges in evaluating a child's testimony, the authors looked at seven cases. 'Little Rascals' was one of them.

  • EXCERPT..... on the effects of repeated questioning in interviewing the children at Little Rascals

  • EXCERPT..... on the use of anatomically detailed dolls in interviewing Little Rascals children about possible sexual abuse

  • EXCERPT.....on the technique in the Little Rascals case of using suggestive books to help the child talk about difficult things and make disclosures

"The Little Rascals Day Care Center Case: The Ingredients of Two Successful Prosecutions" by Nancy Lamb, Associate Attorney General, North Carolina Department of Justice, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Vol. 3(2) 1994.

Lamb was one of the three prosecutors in the Little Rascals case.

"New Era of Skepticism" by John B. Myers, Psychology, Public Policy and Law, June 1995

Myers counters those writers in the psychological literature (such as Ceci and Bruck) who, he says, portray children in an unnecessarily negative light. He also examines how the popular media is increasingly skeptical of child witnesses. Lastly, Meyers writes that the 1994 decision in State v. Michaels is likely to exaggerate doubts about children's memory and suggestibility.

"Child Witnesses In Court: A Growing Dilemma"
by Stephen J. Ceci, Ph.D. and Eduardus de Bruyn, M.A. CHILDREN TODAY, 1993, Volume 22, No.1.

The authors focus on two studies they conducted: 1) the effect of prolonged erroneous suggestion on young children's recollections and 2) the influence of interviewers' biases on children's reports. Although definitive conclusions on children's testimonial competence are still lacking, Ceci and Bruyn say one thing is clear: children are neither as suggestible and coachable as some pro-defense advocates have alleged, nor are they as resistant to suggestions about their own bodies as some pro-prosescution advocates have claimed.

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