How does religiosity affect the richness of child forensic testimonies? Comparing the narratives of sexual abuse victims from three Jewish groups in Israel

Inbal Hindi, Hanin Mordi, Dafna Tener, Carmit Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Forensic interviews with children have a vital role in promoting justice. Given that in most child sexual abuse incidents, there is no physical evidence or witnesses other than the children, their testimonies are crucial. Accordingly, children are required to provide detailed testimonies rich in forensically relevant details. The vast majority of studies on the richness of children's testimonies have examined the impact of gender and age on abuse characteristics. The current study spotlights the impact of children‘s religiosity on the richness of their testimonies. The sample comprised 234 forensic interviews with children belonging to three Jewish religious groups in Israel: secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox. All interviews were coded for both forensic question type (open, directive, option-posing questions) as well as the number of forensically relevant details the children provided (richness of testimony). The results indicate a correlation between the children's religiosity and richness of testimony provided, with secular children providing richer testimonies and ultra-Orthodox children providing the fewest relevant details. The discussion addresses two clashes between the forensic interview and the child's religious identity: using direct sexual terminology and disclosing child sexual abuse within a religious community. The key conclusion of the current study is the urgent need to better adapt forensic interviews to the context of the children's lives to avoid adverse impacts for the involved children and their surroundings.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106488
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume137
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • Religiosity
  • Religious communities
  • Religious identity
  • Richness of testimonies
  • Ultra-Orthodox community

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