How children talk about events: Implications for eliciting and analyzing eyewitness reports

Sonja P. Brubacher, Carole Peterson, David La Rooy, Jason J. Dickinson, Debra Ann Poole

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Legal and social service professionals often question whether various features of young witnesses’ responses during interviews are characteristic of children's event reports or whether these features are concerning findings that reflect degraded memory, outside influence, or other phenomena. To assist helping professionals and researchers who collect data through interviews, we aggregated findings from child eyewitness studies and revisited transcript sets to construct fifteen principles that capture how children talk about events. These principles address children's earliest event narratives, how children report information as interviews unfold and typical features of their narratives, threats to the accuracy of answers, the influence of interviewers’ language on children's styles of reporting, how testimonies compare across multiple interviews and multiple witnesses to the same event, and the structure of accurate and inaccurate reports. A summary table highlights the implications of these principles for interviewers and the decision-makers who analyze children's reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-89
Number of pages20
JournalDevelopmental Review
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Children
  • Event reports
  • Eyewitness memory
  • Narrative structure


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