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Prosecutors' perspectives on clarifying terms for genitalia in child sexual abuse interviews

Version 2 2024-06-13, 15:46
Version 1 2015-03-10, 15:31
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-13, 15:46 authored by KS Burrows, MB Powell
In investigative interviews with alleged victims of child sexual abuse, professionals must establish the nature of the alleged abuse by determining what body parts were involved in the offending. This can be difficult, however, because children often use colloquial (non-anatomical) terms to describe genitalia, and there has been little direction for interviewers about clarifying these terms sufficiently to establish the charge. The aim of this study was to address the need for guidance from prosecutors about the level of clarity in terms required from a legal perspective, and how this clarity can be achieved. A focus group of nine prosecutors (representing all but one Australian State and Territory) were asked to consider what degree of clarity in terminology for genitalia was adequate and how such clarity could be achieved. Thematic analysis revealed that a reduction in specific questioning around genitalia would improve the usefulness of investigative interviews with children from a legal perspective. Recommendations for improving interviews about abuse with child witnesses are discussed. © 2014 The Australian Psychological Society.

History

Journal

Australian psychologist

Volume

49

Pagination

297-304

Location

Chichester, England

ISSN

0005-0067

eISSN

1742-9544

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article, C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing

Issue

5

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell Publishing