111228CeciMay 4, 2012

“Written reports that contain statements such as ‘The child said that Mr. Bob told them secrets’ are meaningless.

“We need to know whether this was a spontaneous remark, whether this was prompted by an open-ended question (e.g., “What did Mr. Bob tell you?”), or whether this is merely the interviewer’s memory of the gist of a conversation in which the interviewer asked, ‘Did Mr. Bob ask you to keep secrets?’ and the child reluctantly may have replied, ‘Yes.’

“Some summaries of the interviews are written in such a way as to make one believe that children made spontaneous and detailed statements about sexual abuse. However in the few instances where we have transcripts of other interviews, it is clear that the child only responded ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a barrage of leading questions.”

– From “Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children’s
Testimony” by Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck (1995)