Importance of a Child Witness to a Crime

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Children as Eyewitnesses

Why do eyewitness reports provide such strong evidence in criminal cases? The reason is the judicial system and the general public believes that the way in-which a person remembers an event is the way the event actually occurred. Eyewitnesses are used in numerous amounts of cases no matter the sex, race, or age of the person. Sometimes, children are the only witness to a crime. If a lawyer believes the child’s testimony will help the case, then the child will most likely testify. But, do children under the age of six posses the cognitive capacity to provide valid testimonies in the court room?

There are many components that are needed to provide a valid eyewitness testimony such as discriminating between fact and fiction. For example, if you have ever asked a child what he or she did at school today and then asked the child the same question after he or she watched television or talked a friend, in many cases the child’s story will change. Therefore, I will argue that children under the age of six do not posses the cognitive capacity to provide valid eyewitnesses testimonies in the court of law.

People often remember some aspects of an event while misremembering or forgetting others. This problem is extremely apparent with children under the age of six. Children under the age of six do not have the mentality to dissociate reality and idealism. Johnson and his colleagues (as cited in Lindsay, Johnson and Kwon, 1991) suggested that children more often confuse memories of things they had merely imagined doing with memories of things they had actually done. If a child is an eyewitness and misremembers or dissociates the facts with idealism, artificial information could be presented to the jury.

Hence, Misremembering or forgetting poses a problem in the judicial system; if a child forgets or misremembers, there is a possibility that a man or women could be wrongly accused. Not only do children not have the...
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