weinm027: October 2011 Archives

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.

Night Terrors

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It was a dark and stormy night, suddenly young Charlie screams out. His parents enter his room to find him sweating profusely, wide-eyed, thrashing, and breathing heavily. He recognizes no one; his face is filled with panic. However, he soon falls back into a deep sleep. By the time the next morning comes around, Charlie remembers nothing of what happened during the night.

How is it possible that this child who had been utterly terrified could also have forgotten about his outburst? The answer to this is a sleeping disorder known as night terrors. Night terrors (also known as "sleep terror") are most common among children, especially those of the ages three to seven years old. They involve a person awaking from sleep in a horrified manner (although they aren't fully awake), likely to produce the aforementioned symptoms, resulting from a person's emotional state of stress or conflict, lack of sleep, or from simply having a fever (PubMed Health).

Yet, this disorder may also be present in adults and as such is applicable to people of all ages. Studies have shown that adult night terrors may have genetic and/or developmental factors. Adults who undergo night terrors are more likely to express aggression, have trouble with anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and sleepwalking (Clinical Studies).

Therefore, night terrors should continue to be under scrutiny due to their hindrance in the lives of many. Further questions that should be explored include: Is there any way to defeat night terrors through therapy, thereby decreasing the stress in one's life and alleviating trauma? Or in some cases, is it simply a genetic trait that can't be overcome? Regardless of its cause, night terrors should be taken seriously due to the capability of injury, the night time disturbances, and the possible sleep irregularities that could occur to those who suffer from this disorder.

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