When psychological science fails to be heard: the lack of evidence-based arguments in a ministerial report on child sexual abuse

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Abstract

One of the most debated issues in relation to child sexual abuse (CSA) is whether there should be a limitation period for prosecutions. In 2017 a French ministerial report was released proposing extension of the limitation period in part because of the sometimes long delay between the alleged events and the disclosure of the abuse. For this, the report relied on dissociative amnesia. It also advocated for the development of child victim interview protocols by victim associations. We show that dissociative amnesia is not consensual within the scientific community. Instead, we recommend scientifically reliable cognitive principles to explain the lack of memory. Moreover, interviewing techniques for children have already been designed by memory researchers to enhance recall and report of CSA, from which any uncontrolled deviation might put the child’s testimony at risk. We conclude by advocating for the use of evidence-based psychology, and for co-operation between practitioners, judges and researchers.

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APA

Dodier, O., & Tomas, F. (2019). When psychological science fails to be heard: the lack of evidence-based arguments in a ministerial report on child sexual abuse. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 26(3), 385–395. https://doi.org/10.1080/13218719.2018.1506716

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