Maltreated Children's Understanding of and Emotional Reactions to Dependency Court Involvement

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 27, p. 97, 2009

USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 09-20

Posted: 14 May 2009 Last revised: 22 Jun 2009

See all articles by Jodi Quas

Jodi Quas

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Allison R. Wallin

University of California, Irvine

Briana Horwitz

University of California, Irvine

Elizabeth Davis

University of California, Irvine

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Abstract

Little is known about the extent to which maltreated children understand what is happening during their participation in court proceedings, despite large numbers of children coming into contact with the legal system as victims of maltreatment. In the present study, maltreated 4- to 15-year-olds were interviewed about their understanding of dependency court on the day of their scheduled court visit. Their feelings about attending their hearing were also assessed, and after their hearing, their understanding of the decisions was examined. Age-related improvements in children’s understanding emerged. Also, children who were more knowledgeable about the legal system were less distressed about attending their hearing, as were younger children who had been in the system a longer time. Finally, a majority of children lacked full or accurate understanding of what actually happened during their hearing. Findings have implications for children’s participation in legal proceedings and the development of interventions to facilitate children’s legal understanding.

Suggested Citation

Quas, Jodi and Wallin, Allison R. and Horwitz, Briana and Davis, Elizabeth and Lyon, Thomas D., Maltreated Children's Understanding of and Emotional Reactions to Dependency Court Involvement. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 27, p. 97, 2009; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 09-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1404242

Jodi Quas (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society ( email )

2340 Social Ecology 2, RM
Irvine, CA 92697

Allison R. Wallin

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Briana Horwitz

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Elizabeth Davis

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-0142 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

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