Young Children's Ability to Describe Intermediate Clothing Placement

25 Pages Posted: 13 May 2020

See all articles by Breanne Wylie

Breanne Wylie

Brock University

Stacia Stolzenberg

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Criminology & Criminal Justice

Kelly McWilliams

City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Angela D. Evans

Institute of Child Study (Brock University)

Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Date Written: May 11, 2020

Abstract

Children’s ability to adequately describe clothing placement is essential to evaluating their allegations of sexual abuse. Intermediate clothing placement (partially removed clothing) may be difficult for young children to describe, requiring more detailed explanations to indicate the location of clothing (e.g., the clothes were pulled down to the knees). The current study investigated 172 3- to 6-year-olds’ descriptions of clothing placement when responding to commonly used questions (yes/no, forced-choice, open-choice, where), as well as children’s on-off response tendencies when describing intermediate placement (i.e.., labeling the clothing as fully on or off). Results revealed that "where" questions were superior in eliciting intermediate descriptions, even for the youngest children. Children sometimes exhibited tendencies to describe intermediate placements as “on” or “off,” which varied by question-type and clothing placement. The implications of the findings for interviewing young children about sexual abuse are discussed.

Keywords: clothing placement, child sexual abuse, question type, response biases, intermediate descriptions

Suggested Citation

Wylie, Breanne and Stolzenberg, Stacia and McWilliams, Kelly and Evans, Angela D. and Lyon, Thomas D., Young Children's Ability to Describe Intermediate Clothing Placement (May 11, 2020). Forthcoming in Child Maltreatment; USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS20-9; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 20-9. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3598323

Breanne Wylie (Contact Author)

Brock University ( email )

500 Glenridge Avenue
St. Catherines, Ontario L2S 3A1
Canada

Stacia Stolzenberg

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Criminology & Criminal Justice ( email )

411 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ Arizona 85004
United States
6024960495 (Phone)

Kelly McWilliams

City University of New York - John Jay College of Criminal Justice ( email )

524 W 59th St
New York, NY 10019
United States

Angela D. Evans

Institute of Child Study (Brock University) ( email )

500 Glenridge Avenue
St. Catherines, Ontario L2S 3A1
Canada

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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