Cross-examination: The Testimony of Children With and Without Intellectual Disabilities



The present study assessed how children with a range of cognitive abilities fared during a mock cross-examination. Ninety children (aged 4 to 11 years; 18 with intellectual disabilities, 13 with borderline intellectual disabilities and 59 who were typically developing) witnessed a staged event, participated in an initial forensic interview (a few days later) and were cross-examined by a barrister-in-training (10 months later). During cross-examination, 98% of all children changed at least one response from their initial interview when challenged. However, group differences in performance (total number of changed responses, ‘resistance’ to challenges), controlling for age and memory for event details, were not significant or did not prove reliable at the level of individual group contrasts. Overall, little robust evidence for group differences in performance on cross-examination could be identified, and memory for event details was the most reliable predictor of performance. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.