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Should young children testify in cases of sexual abuse?
Am J Psychiatry 1987;144:476-480.
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Children as young as age 3 are testifying in cases of sexual abuse and molestation. Very young children can accurately recall emotionally charged, personally significant events. They demonstrate more errors of omission, difficulties with time and number of concepts, and occasional misinterpretations of others' actions. Children's testimony can be influenced by an overly authoritative or ingratiating attorney stance, an attorney's preconceived notions, age-inappropriate questions, and the child's limited attention span. Children may be helped or harmed by testifying. The risk of further traumatization can be minimized through the judge's use of discretionary power, inclusion of professionals trained in child development in the investigative and court process, and use of videotaping or one-way screens.

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