PROTECTING CHILD WITNESSES: NEW DEVELOPMENTS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL WORKERS

  • Carmel Matthias School of Social Work and Community Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.

Abstract

Social workers often work with child clients who need to give evidence in court. Unfortunately these children are vulnerable to secondary systemic abuse. Feelings of intimidation at court may also adversely affect the accuracy of their evidence, leading to an inappropriate outcome (Hall, 2009; Muller & Van der Merwe, 2005). Many countries have therefore introduced technology-based protective measures to reduce the stress experienced by child witnesses. These include pre-recorded evidence, separate-venue testimony with a video link, and intermediaries. In South Africa it is important that social workers have a good understanding of the legal framework. They are often in a position to provide pre-court assessments motivating for protective measures. They may also be called upon to give expert evidence in court on whether a particular child requires a separate venue or an intermediary.

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Published
2014-06-13
Section
Articles