Behav Sci Law 2015 Aug;33(4):459-75
Department of Psychiatry and Bio-behavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
The current study examined whether a pretrial preparation program, consisting of legal knowledge education, stress inoculation training, and a mock trial, is associated with decreased anticipatory anxiety of child witnesses. One hundred and ninety-three 4- to 17-year-olds who were awaiting impending legal proceedings attended Kids' Court School in Las Vegas, NV, one to two weeks before their court appearances. Participants completed a measure of anticipatory court-related anxiety before and after the intervention. As predicted, children's anticipatory anxiety decreased significantly from pretest to posttest. Results demonstrate the promise of a brief, unbiased, standardized program for reducing system-induced stress on child witnesses, while maintaining the integrity of the legal process. This study serves as a springboard to guide future research, practice, policy, and implementation on a larger scale.