The Juxtaposition of the Child as a Witness and a Victim: An Analysis of Legal Policy Affecting Young Witnesses in Canada

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Spence, Shakira Aliya




The role of a witness presents the complex responsibility to convince a court of the alleged criminally deviant actions committed against them. My research analyzes how this role is further complicated when a child is a sole witness, often in child sexual abuse cases. I explore how their agency and competency is addressed within the policies that facilitate their testimonies and how it manifests in practice. Pervasive discourses of developmental psychology theorized about a child's capability continuously captures the validation and implementation of protection-driven policies that reflect their differed capacity as witnesses compared to adults. Through a critical discourse and narrative analysis, this research challenges these dominant ideologies that invade interpretations of child's agency as victims and their ensuing capability as witnesses to testify. By drawing on newer sociologies of childhood and critical victimology, this thesis elucidates the confounds of protection-based policy and its hindrances on child witnesses' agency.


Individual and Family Studies




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Legal Studies

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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