Introducing the Child Witness

A training course aimed at introducing professionals to the dynamics involved when working with children who interface with the criminal justice system, with special emphasis on children who are victims of abuse. The course aims also to provide professionals with the specialised skills required to work effectively with children.

Target audience

Introducing the Child Witness is a general introductory course aimed at all professionals who work with children. It can also be offered to specialist groups in which case the course content becomes more focussed to the particular discipline. It has 4 possible combinations:

  • Introducing the Child Witness: General
  • Introducing the Child Witness: Police Officers
  • Introducing the Child Witness: Social Workers
  • Introducing the Child Witness: Intermediaries

Course content

The course content includes the following general topics:

  • Child Development An introduction to the theories of cognitive development and their applicability in the forensic environment.

  • Socio-Emotional Development A brief look at the theories of socio-emotional development with special focus on adolescence.

  • Effects of Testifying The effects which testifying in court has on children

  • Trauma An overview of the impact of sexual abuse on the child victim, including short-term and long-term impact.

  • Disclosure An overview of the factors that contribute to delayed and conflicting disclosures of sexual abuse.

  • Child Communication An introduction to child language and an investigation into the common misunderstandings in child-adult communication in court

  • Anatomically Detailed Dolls An introduction to anatomically detailed dolls and their use

  • Cross-examination of the Child Witness A study of the features of cross-examination and their effect on children

  • Legal Issues Features of the applicable legal system that pertain to children

  • Court Preparation An introduction to the need for and content of court preparation programmes

  • Memory A brief introduction to memory strategies and research on children’s ability to remember events

  • Sex Offender Identifying sex offenders and understanding the patterns they employ when they offend against children

Specialist Topics for Police

  • Statement Taking Techniques for taking effective and legally acceptable statements from children

  • Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Techniques for conducting effective investigations of cases involving child abuse and sexual offences

  • Interviewing the Sex Offender Techniques for conducting successful interviews with sex offenders

  • Interviewing the Non-offending Parent Techniques for conducting successful interviews with the non-offending parents in child sexual abuse cases

Specialist Topics for Social Workers

  • Child Forensic Interviewing How to conduct successful forensic interviews with children

  • Use of experts Purpose of expert testimony and appropriate techniques for acting as an expert in court

  • Writing Court Reports An in-depth look at the contents of court reports


The course runs over a period of 5 days and methodology includes:

  • overhead presentations
  • video material
  • group work
  • role-plays
  • individual exercises

A certificate of completion is awarded at the end.

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