There is increasing consensus among researchers and professionals that children with disabilities are more likely to witness or experience abuse than those without disabilities. They are often seen as easy targets, not only because they may have difficulty defending themselves or reporting the abuse, but also because their accounts are frequently dismissed by the professionals conducting criminal investigations or adjudicating allegations. When children with disabilities come into contact with the legal system as either victims or witness, the primary goal is typically to obtain as much information as possible about the alleged crime via thorough investigative interviews. In many criminal investigations, physical evidence of the abuse does not exist, and the outcomes of the case rely on children’s eyewitness testimony. It is thus important that professionals are able to obtain accurate and reliable reports of witnessed or experienced events from them. In addition to the learning, behavioral, social or communication difficulties, children with disabilities have a particular pattern of strengths and weaknesses in the domain of memory that can also affect their participation in legal contexts. The combination of these developmental characteristics can constitute important challenges for professionals seeking their testimony. It is critical to understand their ability to describe past experiences and identify the best ways to interview them, developing interviewing strategies that complement their unique memory and behavioural characteristics.
Professora Doutora Telma Sousa Almeida
Professora Auxiliar no ISPA – Instituto Universitário
Especialista em desenvolvimento infantil, avaliação psicológica e entrevista forense de testemunhas especialmente vulneráveis.
Doutoramento em Psicologia, pela Universidade de Cambridge, no Reino Unido
Pós-graduada em Medicina Legal e em Avaliação Psicológica Forense
O seu mais recente projeto, desenvolvido na Universidade de Cambridge, incidia sobre o estudo da memória e do testemunho de populações particularmente vulneráveis
Integrou várias equipas de investigação no âmbito do abuso de crianças, psicologia forense e desenvolvimental e delinquência juvenil, nomeadamente uma equipa internacional de investigação pela Delegação Norte do Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal e Ciências Forenses, dedicada a explorar a forma como crianças portuguesas vítimas ou testemunhas de crimes são entrevistadas durante procedimentos de Declarações para Memória Futura
Departamento de Psicologia