n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Young witnesses : experiences of court support and court preparation officials

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Like all victims of crime, individuals who fall victim to child sexual abuse are often expected to participate in the criminal justice system. The court experience in particular can be very traumatic since children have to relate the factual occurrences of their victimisation over and over and are often exposed to harsh cross-examination. When asking children to participate in a system specifically designed for adults, necessities such as court support and court preparation offer an opportunity to empower a victim to deliver the best possible testimony and prevent secondary victimisation. For the purposes of this article a qualitative pilot study was initiated to determine the experiences of individuals involved in court support and court preparation. Respondents were asked to comment on the differences between court support and preparation, as well as the problems experienced with child testimonies and how such issues were addressed through the preparation and support.

Findings highlighted a need for court support as well as court preparation to be implemented in all courts dealing with child victims. The distinction between court support and court preparation was also emphasised, because although both should be present, they none the less are separate and different entities. Numerous challenges ranging from logistical alternatives to legal changes within the legislation were offered as limitations. Necessary changes that could ensure the smooth running and implementation of support and preparation in all courts, and thus develop a better prepared victim in the court room, were also suggested.

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