Maltreated Children’s Temporal Knowledge for Significant Events
Posted: 6 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 3, 2009
Maltreated children are often asked, during forensic interviews and when testifying in court, temporal questions about when their abuse occurred. Yet, it is unknown as to how well maltreated children can actually answer temporal questions, or how their temporal knowledge develops more generally. The present study examined 167 6- to10-year-old maltreated children’s temporal knowledge (e.g., the current month) and temporal memory (e.g., how many times a prior event occurred) for prior significant documented events. Overall accuracy was poor for many of the questions when children were dichotomized as being correct or not. However, children’s reports were not largely discrepant from the correct time, and their reports were often significantly better than chance. Together, these results highlight limitations but also competencies in maltreated children’s temporal abilities and have important implications for evaluating children’s statements in legal contexts.
Keywords: temporal memory, maltreated children
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