Feb. 1, 2013

“The Little Rascals case serves as a good reminder that parents also are part of the child-savers interest group and have as much, in fact probably more, of a vested interest in ‘getting to the truth’ than any of their professional associates….

“From the witness stand, one mother describes how her repeated questioning of her three-year-old son finally confirmed that he, too, had been abused by Bob Kelly…

Mother: First time I questioned him, we were laying on my bed and I was just, you know, ‘Do you like Mr. Bob?’ ‘Has Mr. Bob ever done anything bad to you?’ And as we were talking I got more specific…. ‘Has Mr. Bob ever touched your hiney? ‘Has he ever put his finger in your hiney?’

Attorney: Was that the only time you questioned him?

Mother: No, it went on….

Attorney: Now tell me how it developed that you began to get statements from him that raised a question in your mind about sexual abuse.

Mother: (My son) was being questioned a lot from that first time on, quite often. And then that last week it was probably a few hours every day thing…. I got a response from him. Um, he told me that Mr. Bob had put his penis in his mouth and peed on him….

Attorney: How did he come up with those kinds of statements?

Mother: Because I asked him…. He had been hearing it at least once a week since I first started questioning him and then that last week he was hearing it every day.

“In their empirical research on repeated interviewing, Ceci and Bruck (1995) find that while children do remember more with each additional interview, their reports also become more inaccurate over time.

“Simply put, they recall both more accurate and inaccurate details with each successive interview. Further, repeated interviews signal the interviewers’ bias to the children, cueing them on how to answer in a way that pleases their interrogators.”

– From “The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic” by Mary De Young (2004)