Children are known to have wild imaginations, and, beyond that, they are known for being easily influenced and vulnerable. What others say and do, especially those that children look up to as authorities, can change children's actions and ideas. Beyond that, they can influence a child's own thoughts and memories through suggestibility.
Problems have resulted due to children's susceptibility to others, especially among cases involving sexual abuse. Generally, sexual abuse of children leaves no physical evidence, leading to a case solely revolving around the child's word against the accused. However, it has often been found that investigators using leading or suggestive questions may change the child's explanation and accusations. In cases such as these, it is incredibly important that the truth be told as real abusers need to be caught and those that are falsely accused be set free instead of facing jail time for a crime that they never committed. Research has been conducted to see how suggestions from adults can lead children to admit to things that never actually happened. For example, in the study found HERE, it was found that children would accurately answer questions before the leading questions, but, once the leading questions were presented, children (especially those ages 3 and under) were much more likely to make mistakes in their recollections.
Clearly, this is a very important issue as it is vital for children to have accurate interpretations of memories in order to give the true description of events that may or may not have led to their harm. The presence of suggestive questions can hinder or help an investigation, depending on whether these questions lead to the actual truth or simply a false conclusion due to the direction the questions were heading. Questions for further consideration include: What types of suggestive questions are alright? When are leading questions too much? When do they simply lead a child to give incorrect answers? Deriving the truth from memories should always be an important focus for investigators, especially when dealing with those who are impressionable, such as young children.