Child sexual abuse and the criminal justice system: what educators need to know
C Eastwood, “Child sexual abuse and the criminal justice system: what educators need to know” (2003) 8(1) Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education 109.
This paper presents a summary of findings from a report on the experiences of child complainants of sexual abuse in the criminal justice system in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. The aim of the research was to investigate the consequences of involvement in the criminal justice system from the perspective of the child complainant.
Following their experiences, when asked if they would ever report the sexual abuse again, only 44 per cent of children in Queensland, 33 per cent in NSW and 64 per cent in Western Australia indicated that they would. There was widespread belief that the process was not worth the trauma suffered.
The paper argues that most worthwhile, explicit and repeated recommendations remain ignored and unimplemented in relation to the three problem areas identified by the children in the current study: the long delay between the reporting and trial, being forced to see the accused, and damaging cross-examination at committal and/or trial.
The paper outlines that educators need to be aware of the effect of the justice process on the child in order to address the child’s needs, offer appropriate support and to facilitate educational outcomes during the child’s involvement in the criminal justice process.
Acknowledgment: this article was first published in full in the (2003) 8(1) Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education 109. Reproduced with permission.