n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - The enigma of the child witness : a need for expert evidence




Although medical and psychological experts have been used to testify as to the indicators and/or effects of child sexual abuse, there has arisen the need for a new kind of expertise in this field. Children are perceived by the courts to be miniature adults and their evidence is evaluated on this basis, often resulting in an injustice to the child. Cognisance needs to be taken of the fact that children differ dramatically from adults with respect to cognitive development, language development, and the perceptions and beliefs they hold. In order for the courts to communicate more effectively with child witnesses, it is necessary that experts inform judicial officers of the common misunderstandings involved in communicating with children.


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