Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Special Education

First Committee Member

Rebecca Nathanson

Number of Pages



Research has shown that children with disabilities are much more likely to be abused than their non-disabled peers. Moreover, it has been suggested that 50% of child victims of abuse possess a learning and/or emotional disability (NIH, 1999). Although legal professionals rely heavily on the victim to aid in the investigative and judicial process, studies have shown that jurors find children less credible witnesses than adults (Goodman & Bottoms, 1993). It has also been suggested that prosecutors are less likely to prosecute a case that involves a child with a disability (Perry & Wrightsman, 1991). The purpose of the present study was to assess jurors' perceptions of a child witness with a learning disability, a child witness with emotional disturbance or a child witness with mental retardation compared to a child witness without a disability. It was hypothesized that a child witness with a learning disability, emotional disturbance or mental retardation would be perceived as less credible than a child without a disability. Results indicated that there was no significant difference found in witness credibility across groups. The implications of these findings could include: providing a "catalyst" for further research in the area of child witnesses with disabilities, helping child witnesses with disabilities prepare for court, and making the results available to prosecutors who have been reluctant to prosecute a case involving a child with a disability.


Child; Disabilities; Jurors; Perceptions; Witnesses

Controlled Subject

Special education; Law

File Format


File Size

911.36 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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