Child Victims/Witnesses Rights

Adopted May 1986 – Reaffirmed March 2012 – Community Concerns Commission

The California State PTA believes it is important to reduce trauma in all phases of a child’s life including trauma caused by actions pursued through the court system. PTA believes it is important to protect the rights of child victims/witnesses at all times including, but not limited to, investigations and courtroom testimony. PTA believes it is important for child victims/witnesses to receive supportive assistance from trained personnel throughout the course of any criminal proceeding.

California State PTA believes that efforts should be made to advocate for and address the needs of child witnesses/victims by:

  • Training law enforcement, legal and judicial personnel in appropriate and age-/ability-specific procedures for interacting with a child victim/witness in a respectful, compassionate and caring manner;
  • Ensuring a child’s right to have access to assignment of a trained child advocate to protect his/her interests;
  • Permitting support attendants for the child throughout the court proceedings;
  • Providing appropriate treatment services and a list of available resources/referrals;
  • Guaranteeing child victims/witnesses the rights of privacy and confidentiality;
  • Questioning a child in a manner appropriate to his/her chronological and/or mental age;
  • Minimizing the number of interviews and investigations;
  • Trying multi-jurisdictional cases in only one jurisdiction;
  • Allowing Out of Court Statements, videotaped statements and/or depositions to be admitted as evidence;
  • Allowing closed-circuit testimony, thereby ensuring that a child is protected from direct confrontation with the accused;
  • Permitting special methods of questioning of the child witness (requiring attorneys to remain seated during questioning, allowing the judge to question the witness, limiting the time allowed for testimony); and
  • Altering the courtroom setting to make it easier for the child to testify.
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