Narrator: This is Science Today. Over the last thirty years, there has been an increase in the number of court cases involving children – some as young as two years of age. But how competent are children as witnesses in the court? Research from the University of California, San Diego has found that kids on the stand are likely to tell the truth – even if their parents ask them to lie. Kang Lee, an associate professor of psychology, led the study.
Lee: It tells us the competence examination that's in place in our courtroom has some impact on the child's truthfulness when they are giving testimony.
Narrator: Lee says this kind of finding is not only useful for the courts, but also for the entire process of criminal investigations.
Lee: Not just the judge who would ask kids about the implications of lying or the importance of truth telling, but also you can ask the police, the social workers to ask these kinds of questions before they actually engage in interviews in the kids about what's happening.
Narrator: The laboratory-based study included over 200 children and one parent per child. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.