Support for Child Witnesses

AuthorLoree Armstrong Beniuk, Jo-Anne Hughes, and Jack Reynolds
Support for Child Witnesses
I have spent the majority of my  years as a police ocer working with children,
as a Young Oender Ocer, a School Safety Ocer and as a Sexual Assault/Child
Abuse Detective. As a result of these experiences, I have had the privilege of teach-
ing children in a pro-active and positive setting, interviewed countless child victims
and have dealt with kids who become part of the legal system as well.
A number of years ago, prior to the existence of a Centre, I was involved in a case
with a  year old female victim of a sexual assault. I did my best to prepare her for
court but right before she was scheduled to testify, she broke down and was unable
to go on. e Crown withdrew the matter and a short time later the child changed
her mind and wanted to testify. It was VERY dicult explaining to her that the case
had been withdrawn and that she could no longer testify even though she wanted
to. I am certain that this scenario has played out in many court rooms in the past.
e establishment of an increasing number of child witness programs across the
province very much reduces the risk of it happening in future.
—Comments from a Guelph Police Ocer, who subsequently joined the
Board of Directors of the Waterloo Region Child Witness Centre
Children who are required to testify in court, either as a victim of or a
witness to a crime, have special needs that are dif‌ferent from those of
adults. The support services described in this chapter and the following
three chapters are available to children in both circumstances.
Children are oen involuntary participants in a system that is adver-
sarial, alien, and frightening to them. They are frequently stressed about

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