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Crimes Against Children (From Juvenile Justice System: Law and Process, Second Edition, P 271-318, 2002, Mary J. Clement -- See NCJ–200505)

NCJ Number
Mary J. Clement Ph.D.
Date Published
This chapter discusses how the juvenile court can make child abuse into a criminal offense.
Juvenile courts have the ability to switch petitions of child abuse to criminal proceedings based on criminal charges against children such as sodomy. Focusing on sexual crimes such as carnal knowledge, crimes against nature, forced sodomy, indecent liberties, and crimes of child pornography, the author describes the serial murder of children as well as other crimes against children. Considering the competency of children to testify, the author addresses the issue of whether children have enough verbal skills to coherently testify in their own behalf in a court of law. Presenting various factors that impact a child’s ability to testify including age, cross-examination pressures, unavailability, hearsay, and the identity of the perpetrator, the author discusses the problem of a lack of available physical evidence in order to prosecute crimes against children. This chapter discusses the emotional effects of children testifying in a court of law, and describes the cycle of a crime victim becoming a criminal perpetrator in later years. After discussing the battered spouse/child syndrome defense, the author details family reunification and child protection issues maintaining that a delicate balance is needed in order to safeguard children while protecting families. Details from the Supreme Court case of Maryland v. Craig are presented in order to illustrate how this balance may be achieved. References