Award Date

8-1-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Rebecca Nathanson

Second Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Third Committee Member

Paul Jones

Fourth Committee Member

M. A. Kennedy

Fifth Committee Member

Joe Crank

Number of Pages

214

Abstract

Court education presents a useful approach to addressing children's stress, anxiety or fear related to testifying. The current study uses a pretest-posttest design to evaluate whether Kids' Court School (KCS), a court education program in Clark County, Nevada, reduces court-related stress in child witnesses. In addition, attorneys' and parents' concerns related to various elements of the child's impending testimony, are evaluated. The measure used to assess stress was the Court-Related Stress Scale (CRSS), a 10-item Likert scale adapted from the Stressfulness of Life Scale. In addition, open-ended questions were posed at the time of posttest. The CRSS was administered to all participants prior to and subsequent to the child witness's participation in the KCS curriculum intervention.

Hypotheses for the current study were: 1) Children's stress will be reduced subsequent to the KCS curriculum intervention; 2) Lawyers will report a significant reduction in concern for their client's impending testimony after their client has attended KCS; and 3) Parents will report a significant reduction in concern for their child's impending testimony after their child has attended KCS.

Child witness testimony presents concerns related to stress, memory accuracy and testimonial outcomes, and thus, presents concerns for the truth finding function of the American system of jurisprudence. Nonetheless, the legal proceedings brought about when crimes are committed against children or witnessed by children will continue to require children to take the stand. If child witness preparation programs similar to KCS reduce court-related stress that negatively affects testimony, then formal court education programs should be implemented on a wide-ranging scale, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and should be the standard for minimizing stress in testifying child witnesses.

Keywords

Alternative methods of testimony; Child witness preparation program; Child witnesses; Child witnesses – Services for; Courts – Study and teaching (Elementary); Curriculum intervention; Education; Reducing stress; Stress management for children; Stress (Psychology); Testimony

Disciplines

Child Psychology | Courts | Education | Educational Psychology | Law | Psychology

Language

English


Share

COinS