They should talk to the victim and his or her family to get enough information and then decide if
an expert witness is appropriate.
The ramifications of child abuse can vary from case to case. Research has established that
children who are victims of abuse face real challenges with poor physical and mental health
outcomes as a result of the abuse. Child victims are thrust into the criminal justice system, often
without knowledge or choice. Prosecutors are at the forefront of the judicial process, and
therefore need to take action to reduce the negative effects of a trial on child victims. There are
numerous instances where prosecutors can implement measures that will reduce the negative
impact on victims. It is an unavoidable fact that child victims will have to repeatedly tell their
story, and some re-traumatization will likely occur. However, prosecutors can take the time to get
to know the victim and establish trust, and they can ensure that a child has support. When
appropriate, they can have an expert testify about “unusual” behaviors. Prosecutors have the
opportunity, and arguably a responsibility, to reduce the negative effects of trial. The goal cannot
be to eliminate all the possible traumatic effects of a trial; instead, the goal should be to reduce
the instances of re-traumatization and provide support for the inevitable times of stress.