The construction of allegedly abused children’s narratives in Scottish criminal courts

This study investigated lawyers’ use of social narratives surrounding child sexual abuse when questioning 66 5- to 17-year-old alleged victims in Scottish criminal courts using a mixed-methods approach. Thematic analysis found that the use of beliefs and stereotypes varied depending upon the lawyers...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Psychology, crime & law
Main Author: Prince, Eleanor R. (Author)
Other Authors: Lamb, Michael E. (Author); Andrews, Samantha J.; Foster, Juliet L. H.
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2018
In:Psychology, crime & law
Year: 2018, Volume: 24, Issue: 6, Pages: 621-651
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:This study investigated lawyers’ use of social narratives surrounding child sexual abuse when questioning 66 5- to 17-year-old alleged victims in Scottish criminal courts using a mixed-methods approach. Thematic analysis found that the use of beliefs and stereotypes varied depending upon the lawyers’ role (defense/prosecution), children’s age, and the alleged victim-defendant relationship. These findings were investigated further using narrative analysis, which showed that, with increasing age and decreasing familiarity with defendants, narratives increasingly focused on the characteristics and actions of the victims rather than the defendants. Older children contributed more to narratives than younger children, but their contributions were only incorporated into the prosecutors’ narratives. Defense lawyers adopted more victim-blaming tactics as the narratives developed. Findings suggest that the criminal justice system, practitioners, and researchers must do more to recognize and guard against the reinforcement of stereotypes that may influence public rhetoric and jury decision-making.
ISSN:1477-2744
DOI:10.1080/1068316X.2017.1399395