10 July 2007

Does Working in Criminal Law Effect How We View Children?

Sarena Straus lays out how years as a prosecutor, seeing all the evil that can happen to children, have effected her perception of the danger in children's lives.

Unfortunately, I think our experiences in the courtroom effect all of us so that we see the world in a skewed manner. I know it has me. Of course, most of my experience so far is from the other side. For one case I did a lot of research into children, allegations of child abuse, false memories, and lying. I've also watched a few cases tried by friends wherein there was no physical evidence and the basic argument came down to "why would this 9 year old kid lie about something like this" which is a devastating argument; nobody wants to believe a kid is telling an untruth. How do you counter that in front of a jury?

I used to love babysitting. But after all this I got a little paranoid about being left alone with children. Do I rationally realize that the likelihood of a false accusation against me is vanishingly small? Sure I do. But we're not talking about reality here, only how the courtroom effects our perception of it.

3 comments:

martin said...

"why would this 9 year old kid lie about something like this" which is a devastating argument; nobody wants to believe a kid is telling an untruth"

This kind of crap just regularly blows my mind. Either a bunch of my friends and I were totally abnormal kids or those that spout this nonsense were. I often lied. Mostly to get attention, if I can remember it correctly. It made things interesting, it made people pay ATTENTION to me. Usually I was quickly exposed and either punished or it was shrugged off.
Now we live in a day and age where seemingly everything a kid says is taken at face value, especially if it fits our pop-psychology-media-hype-informed adult anxieties. And as a result somebody is routinely robbed of their life, reputation, resources, liberty, anything goes.
Who is driving this nonsense?

Ken Lammers said...

Yes, I have the same sort of memories. I can even remember lying once and not owning up to it resulting in my brother getting a spanking for something I did (I don't feel too guilty about it though, I remember him doing the same to me).

There were a whole bunch of these cases back in the 90's (maybe 80's) that ended up getting thrown out on appeal. During one argument the government attorney argued that kids couldn't lie and one of the appellate judges looked down at him and said something to the effect of "You don't have kids, do you counselor."

Anonymous said...

Literacy! It's "affect."