the child terror
legislative changes
see below for text
In the 1980s, child advocates, parents and politicians responded to the emergence of highly-publicized day-care molestation cases with swift legislative resolve.

In Florida, says former Dade County prosecutor David Markus, "child sexual abuse became a hot political topic in the legislature. And as a result, a lot of laws were passed, making it easier for a prosecutor to get a conviction in the sexual battery case. Among them, restrictions on the right of defense attorneys to depose children, an expansion of allowable hearsay in sexual battery cases, an expansion of allowable other crimes evidence in sexual battery cases. In that sense it was a political children's crusade by legislators running for office, and seeing who can be the toughest on this issue."

Other states reacted similarly, changing laws to more readily accommodate the testimony of children. According to a Memphis Commercial Appeal series in 1988, state legislative reforms during that decade included:

33 states that had allowed children's testimony to be video-taped or presented in court via closed-circuit television
27 states that had expanded traditional "hearsay" exceptions to allow parents to testify about the statements of their children
22 states that had dropped the age guidelines that determine how old a witness need be to be presumed competent to testify
all 50 states had rescinded requirements that children's testimony be corroborated by adult testimony or physical evidence



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