Why Children Lie in Court

New research shows how the power of suggestion can lead youngsters to say things that send innocent adults to jail

The poignant scene is played out time and again in America's courtrooms. A small, bewildered child sits in a witness chair, being led by an attorney through shocking testimony. The youngster speaks haltingly of unspeakable things done to him or her by a stranger, a baby-sitter or even a parent. Could such an innocent soul possibly be telling anything but the truth?

Most legal experts, child psychiatrists -- and juries -- have long thought that children rarely lie about sex-abuse crimes on the witness stand. On the strength of that assumption, many adults have been sent to jail for sexual abuse...

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