The value of child testimony is a subject that it heavily debated within the Canadian justice system. Historically viewed as unreliable, child testimony has evolved greatly over the past few decades and is now viewed with increased sensitivity. Stress, trauma and possible re-victimization are all concerns when dealing with young witnesses and are problems that may never be entirely solved. .
Recognizing and addressing the specific needs of children as witnesses has brought about much needed amendments to the Criminal Code, and many of the revisions help to accommodate the differences a child presents to traditional witness testimony. Screens, videotaped evidence, closed court and support persons are all tools that can be used to aid a child in giving evidence and help to ensure that the courts are receiving the best possible recollection of the facts. Because of these amendments, there are also debates that allowing children these special "rights" is an infringement of the rights promised to the accused by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
History of Child Witnesses in Canada.
"Child witnesses have historically been subjected to rules of evidence that strongly implied they were not to be believed"(Brockman & Rose, 2001, p.296). Much research has been done on children as witnesses with attention to how well they can recall accurate information as well as their resistance to suggestibility. The general conclusion in most of this research was that young children were suggestible and vulnerable to making serious errors in their court testimony (Ceci & Bruck, 1993, 1995; Goodman, 1994; Wakefield & Underwager, 1988).
Although it is commonly known that preschool age children are more suggestible than older children and adults, even the youngest of child witnesses are capable of accurately reporting the behaviors of others when they are allowed to deliver their reports with little interference (Thompson et al.