The Reliability of a Child as an Eyewitness in Court

  • Ingeborg Close


Whether eyewitness reports provided by children during a criminal court case are reliable, is frequently questioned. Factors that can influence the reliability of these reports are children’s memory capacity, their susceptibility to suggestion, and the delay between a crime and providing an eyewitness statement. Eyewitness reports provided by children can be reliable given that this delay remains within a reasonable time frame, and that the presented questions are not suggestive. Additionally, eyewitness reports provided by older children are more reliable than those of younger children. A potential mechanism to increase the reliability is to use relevant cues or objects present at the time of the incident when the child is presenting evidence in court. Taking these factors into account in future criminal court cases with children as eyewitnesses will ensure the best possible reliability in children’s statements, leading to an increased number of rightful convictions.