Due to the statutory obligation to report child sexual abuse to the authorities, children in South Africa are increasingly called to testify in criminal proceedings. A recent qualitative study found that South African parents and social workers are often advised by legal professionals to postpone pre-trial therapy (therapy provided to child witnesses prior to testimony) until after the child’s testimony, based on concerns that therapy could contaminate the child’s version of events, and might ultimately lead to an acquittal of the accused. In this study, the authors analysed selected authoritative documents to explore whether or not any directives exist in respect of the provision of pre-trial therapy to child victims of sexual abuse in South Africa. Our findings suggest that none of the authoritative documents included in our document review specifically mention the rendering of pre-trial therapy to child victims of sexual abuse. Recommendations for policy reform and research are made.
BranamanT.F. and GottliebM.C., “When Does It Become Witness Tampering? Ethical and Legal Considerations for Treatment of Alleged Victims”, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice2013(14(5)), 299–306. doi: 10.1037/a0033020.
EwingD., “Advocacy on Behalf of Sexually Abused Children: Research and Policy Issues Arisianng from a Case Study” in RichterL., DawesA., A. and Higson-SmithC. (eds.), Sexual Abuse of Young Children in Southern Africa (Cape Town South Africa, hsrc, 2004).
FereirraS., “The Best Interests of the Child: From Complete Indeterminacy to Guidance by the Children’s Act”, Tydskrif vir Hedendaagse Hollandse Reg2010, 201–213. http://uir.unisa.ac.za/handle/10500/22479.
Finnilä-TuohimaaK., SanttilaP., SainioM., NiemiP. and SandnabbaK., “Expert Judgment in Cases of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse: Clinicians’ Sensitivity to Suggestive Influences, Pre-Existing Beliefs and Base Rate Estimates”, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology2009 (50(2)), 129–42. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2008.00687.x.
FouchéA. and FouchéD.F., “Legal Requirements Set for the Evidence of Forensic Social Work by the Supreme Court of Appeal”, Child Abuse Research: A South African Journal2015 (16(2)) 1–12: http://hdl.handle.net/10520/EJC180367.
FouchéA. and Le RouxM.P. “Legal Professionals’ Views on Pre-Trial Therapy in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse in South Africa”, Journal of Psychology in Africa2014 (24(2)), 207–214. doi: 10.1080/14330237.2014.903071.
GibneyD.R. and JonesA., “A Crisis Worker’s Observations on the Psychosocial Support for victims and Families Following Child Sexual Abuse: A Case Study”, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine2014(27), 25–28. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2014.07.001.
Goodman-DelahuntyJ., CossinsA. and O’BrienK., “Enhancing the Credibility of Complainants in Child Sexual Assault Trials: The Effect of Expert Evidence and Judicial Directions”, Behavioural Science Law2010 (28(6)), 769–783. doi: 10.1002/bsl.936.
HeatonJ., “An Individualized, Contextualised Child Centered Determination of the Child’s Bests Interests, and the Implication of such an Approach in the South African Context”, Journal for Juridical Sciences2009 (34(2)), 1–18. doi: 10.4314/jjs.v34i2.63128.
HillbergT., Hamilton-GiachritsisC. and DixonL. (2011), “Review of Meta-Analyses on the Association Between Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Mental Health Difficulties: A Systematic Approach”, Trauma, Violence & Abuse 2011 (12(1)), 38–49. doi: 10.1177/1524838010386812.
HodgesE.A. and MyersJ.E. (2010), “Counselling Adult Women Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Benefits of a Wellness Approach”, Journal of Mental Health Counselling 2010 (32(2)), 139–154: www.amhca.org/news/journal.aspx.
Kendall-TackettK.A., WilliamsL.M. and FinkelhorD., “Impact of Sexual Abuse on Children: A Review and Synthesis of Recent Empirical Studies”, Psychological Bulletin1993(113(1)), 164–180. doi: org/10.1037/0033-2909.113.1.164.
KlemfussJ.Z. and S.J.Ceci,, “Normative Memory Development and the Child Witness” in KuehnleK. and ConnellM. (eds.), The Evaluation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations (New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2009).
Kuehnle and ConnellM., “The Child Advocacy Centre Model” in ConnellM. and KuehnleK. (eds.), The Evaluation of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations: A Comprehensive Guide to Assessment and Testimony (Hoboken: Wiley and Sons, 2009).
KuehnleK. and ConnellM., “Managing Children’s Emotional and Clinical Needs” in LambM.E., La RooyD.J., MalloyL.C.Y. and KatzC. (eds.), Children’s Testimony: A Handbook of Psychological Research and Forensic Practice (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).
LambM.E., SternbergK.J., OrbackY., HershkowitzI. and HorowitzD., “Differences Between Accounts Provided by Witnesses and Alleged Victims of Child Sexual Abuse”, Child Abuse and Neglect2003 (27(9)): 1019–1031. doi: rg/10.1016/s0145-2134(03)00167-4.
MacdonaldG., HigginsJ.P.T., RamchandaniP., ValentineJ.C., BrongerL.P., KleinP., O’DanielR., PickeringM., RademakerB., RichardsonG. and TaylorM., “Cognitive-Behavioural Interventions for Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused”, Campbell Systematic Review2012(14). doi: 10.4073/csr.2012.14.
MalloyL.C., La RooyD.J., LambM.E. and KatzC., “Developmentally Sensitive Interviewing for Legal Purposes” in LambM.E., La RooyD.J., MalloyL.C. and KatzC. (eds.), Children’s Testimony: A Handbook of Psychological Research and Forensic Practice (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell2011).
MarriottC., Hamilton-GiachritsisC. and HarropC., “Factors Promoting Resilience Following Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Structured, Narrative Review of the Literature”, Child Abuse Review2013 (23(1)), 17–34. doi: org/10.1002/car.2258.
MathewsS., AbrahamsN. and JewkesR. (2013), “Exploring Mental Health Adjustment of Children Post Sexual Assault in South Africa”, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 2013 (22(6)), 639–657. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2013.811137.
MaxwellA., “Pre-trial Therapy for Child Complainants of Sexual Abuse in the Criminal Justice system: Forensic Implications”, Paper presented at the Child Sexual Abuse: Justice Response or Alternative Resolution Conference, (Adelaide, Australia, 1–2 May 2003).
McauliffB.D.2009., “Child Victim and Witness Research Comes of Age. Implications for social scientists, practitioners, and the law” in BottomsB.L., GoodmanG.S. and NajdowskiC.J. (eds.), Children as Victims, Witnesses, and Offenders: Psychological Science (Guilford Press: New York2009).
ParkerB. and TurnerW., “Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Children and Adolescents Who Have Been Sexually Abused: A Systematic Review”, Campbell Systematic Reviews2013 (7 October). doi: 10.4073/csr.2013.13.
PeredaN., GuileraG., FornsM. and Gómex-BenitoJ.2009., “The Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse in Community and Student Samples: A Meta-Analysis”, Clinical Psychology Review 2009 (29(4)), 328–338. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2008.07.007.
PrincipeG.F. and SchindewolfE., “Natural Conversations as a Source of False Memories in Children: Implications for the Testimony”, Developmental Review 2012 (32(2)), 205–223
StoltenborghM., Van IjzendoornM.H., EuserE.M. and Bakemans-kranenburgM.J., “A Global Perspective on Child Sexual Abuse: Meta-analysis of Prevalence Around the World”, Child Maltreatment2011 (16(2)), 79–101. doi: 10.1177/1077559511403920.
TroxelN., OgleC., CordonI., LawlerM., and GoodmanG.S., “Child Witnesses in Criminal Court” in BottomsB.L., GoodmanG.S. and NajdowskiC.J. (eds.), Children as Victims, Witnesses, and Offenders: Psychological Science and the Law (New York: Guilford Press2009).
ubs Optimus Foundation, “Technical report (2016) Sexual victimisation of children in South Africa Final report of the Optimus Foundation Study”, South Africa, June. Zurich, Switzerland. 2016: www.optimusstudy.org.
Walker-WilliamsH.J. and FouchéA., “A Strengths-based Group Intervention for Women Who Experienced Child Sexual Abuse”,
Research on Social Work Practice 2017 (27(2)), 194–205. DOI: 10.1177/1049731515581627. WilcoxD.T. and RichardsF. and O’KeefeeZ.C., “Resilience and Risk Factors Associated with Experiencing Childhood Sexual Abuse”, Child Abuse Review2004(13(5)), 338–352. doi: 10.1002/car.862.