Case Study: Wee Care Children

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This past summer I worked at a nonprofit law firm, where occasionally I had to read over testimonies that were presented in court. One of the testimonies I cannot forget is from a teenage girl who reported continuous years of sexual abuse from her father. He abused both her and her sister and threatened to harm them and their family if they ever chose to speak up. I was so distraught I started to cry while reading. This particular case has come to mind with many of the topics that we’ve studied in class, especially children’s testimonies. I initially assumed The New Jersey v Margaret Kelly Michaels’ case overview was going to be much like what I read this summer--but it was more than a case of sexual abuse, it was a piece questioning the legitimacy…show more content…
I find myself in a conflict in which I want to believe what children report so they are given the justice they deserve while also being careful about not wrongfully convicting someone of a crime they didn’t commit because of an incorrect recollection. I believe in the due process model which assumes one is innocent until proven guilty (Wrightsman), but I would not want someone to be free of charges like sexual abuse just because there is some research proving the inaccuracy of children’s memory retrieval. This places me in an uncomfortable situation because if the Wee Care children were in fact sexually abused, I would want Kelly and those responsible to be incarcerated and serve their time, obviously. But, after examining the suggestive interviewing techniques and leading questions used on children, I might believe that Kelly is…show more content…
My immediate reaction while reading this testimony, not surprisingly, was, “how did her mom NOT realize this was happening?” and “how could she let this happen to her children.” I now realize I am guilty for blaming the mother for abuse instead of targeting my questions towards the abuser. It has become the norm to hold the mother responsible for the well being of the children, even if they are in an abusive relationship themselves. To a certain point, I was more frustrated at the mother than at the abuser, when the abuser has all the fault in this act. Fine and Carney’s Women, Gender and the Law: Toward a Feminist Rethinking of Responsibility, was also an eye opening piece and revealed the faulty norms I was partaking in. I think after reading this piece many people realize that they unintentionally think this way—blaming women for things they are not responsible for. As we’ve seen with the Wee Care children, parents could not believe that these things (sexual abuse) was happening in their schools without them knowing. The fact that children can go years without showing signs of abuse and without parents noticing complicates the issue of encouraging children to speak

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