Human line drawings (HLD's) are commonly used by professionals who interview children about suspected sexual abuse;however, there is little scientific information about their feabilitity, The major objective of this proposal is to determine within a cognitive developmental framework the benefits and risks of using HLDs in interviews with young children who are questioned about """"""""touching"""""""". Studies are designed to test the following hypotheses: I. HLD's increase the amount of accurate information but not the number of errors that children provide about a past touching event. II. HLD's produce the greatest benefits and fewest risks when introduced after a complete verbal interview. III. The physical characteristics of HLD's influence their feasibility;HLD's that decrease spatial orientation problems are most effective. IV. HLD's are most effective with young children who undertand symbolic representation;there will be little incremental benefit or risk over traditional interviews with no drawings for the oldest children. Two sets of studies will be carried out with children between the ages of 3-8 years. The first set of studies includes children from the community who participate in a magic show in our laboratory;during the magic show children are innocuously touched in a number of places. The second set of studies includes children who attend specific medical clinics and receive genital and/or anal examinations. Two weeks after the magic show/medical examination children will be interviewed and asked questions about events that did occur as well as events that did not occur. Children will be randomized to different interviewing conditions: verbal interview followed by HLD's or HLD's followed by verbal interview. In some studies the suggestiveness of the HLD segment of the intervew will vary;in other studies, the physical characteristics of the HLD's will vary. If children provide additional information with HLD's (not provided in verbal interviews) and do not provide inaccurate information, then HLD's would be considered feasible for interviewing children. The results of these studies will be important for professionals who interview children about sexual abuse or about their bodies in general. They will provide scientific information about the risks and benefits of a promising technique for young children who often do not readily provide important information when asked for it. In addition, guidelines for the most effective uses of the instrument will be provided. The results of the two sets of studies will also address theoretical issues concerning the development of symbolic representation in young children;the unique contribution of this proposal is that the focus is on symbolic representation of the human body rather than on symbolic representation of other physical objects in space.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Maholmes, Valerie
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Johns Hopkins University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Lytle, Nicole; London, Kamala; Bruck, Maggie (2015) Young children's ability to use two-dimensional and three-dimensional symbols to show placements of body touches and hidden objects. J Exp Child Psychol 134:30-42
Buck, Julie A; Warren, Amye R; Bruck, Maggie et al. (2014) How common is ""common knowledge"" about child witnesses among legal professionals? Comparing interviewers, public defenders, and forensic psychologists with laypeople. Behav Sci Law 32:867-83
Poole, Debra Ann; Bruck, Maggie (2012) Divining Testimony? The Impact of Interviewing Props on Children's Reports of Touching. Dev Rev 32:165-180
Poole, Debra Ann; Bruck, Maggie; Pipe, Margaret-Ellen (2011) Forensic Interviewing Aids: Do Props Help Children Answer Questions About Touching? Curr Dir Psychol Sci 20:11-15
Bruck, Maggie (2009) Human figure drawings and children's recall of touching. J Exp Psychol Appl 15:361-74