About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Truth, Lies & Sexual Abuse Allegations

On the website Teaching Expertise I came across this article: Do children tell lies about sexual abuse? And can we tell if they are lying? written by Jenni Whitehead (a child protection development coordinator) in which she talks about her experience as an expert witness asked to assist in disciplinary tribunals involving allegations made against members of staff. She outlines her approach using the model developed by Undeutsch et al and the criteria they suggest should be considered when assessing the truth or otherwise of allegations. Undeutsch’s hypothesis was that statements about actually experienced events differ in content and quality from statements based upon fantasy, fiction & coercion. Jenni Whitehead also refers to the validity checklist developed by Steller & Boychuck. Although the article is aimed at education professionals, it is useful background reading in analysing children’s accounts and preparing cross-examination. David Bedingfield’s extremely thoughtful book Advocacy in Family Proceedings also contains a helpful and detailed consideration of this subject in the chapter on Child Protection Litigation.

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