Children Have Voices – Now Let’s Get Them Heard: Preparing Children to Testify in Court

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Price
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Duration
60 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 12, 2023

Christopher Freid, JD
Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Special Victims Unit (Ret.)

Child maltreatment cases often end up in the courtroom. For a child, the prospect of testifying in a courtroom in front of not only strangers, but in front of those who have abused them or those who were not supportive of them can be truly terrifying. To minimize the impact of trauma upon the child and to reduce overall apprehension and nervousness, the child witness must be fully prepared for this foreign, but inevitable experience.

To compound matters for child maltreatment professionals working with the child witness, the last two years saw a suspension of the justice system across many states thanks to the Covid pandemic. As such, child maltreatment professionals did not experience the day-to-day realities of courtroom events. This suspension coupled with high rates of turnover in the various disciplines, has hampered opportunities for younger professionals to develop the necessary skills for effective advocacy when working with children in the courtroom.

This presentation will outline a strategy for those working with child witnesses in preparation for the courtroom experience. I will outline a multi-step process which includes rapport building, the courtroom tour and substantive preparation as well as address Covid considerations and the impact of vicarious trauma on those working with children during this process. 

Objectives

As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Prepare for a case that involves a child witness.
  • Identify key strategies to present the case effectively when it is time for court.
  • Recognize the possibility of vicarious trauma and to strategize accordingly.


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