Concerned about the possible detrimental impact of the investigative process and court proceedings on child victims of sexual abuse, many child advocates have proposed extensive evidentiary and procedural revisions of the court process. As part of a long-term study of the effects of child sexual abuse on the victims' mental health, we observed child sexual abuse victims during juvenile and criminal court proceedings. Although it was clear to our observers that going to court was stressful for these children, it was not clear that the only effective way of reducing their stress would be to avoid “live” testimony. We propose that many simple improvements for example, increasing the involvement of guardians ad litem, providing adequate time to prepare the child for court, reducing the number of continuances granted, and training attorneys and judges to deal effectively with child witnesseswould be less costly and less controversial to implement than closed-circuit or videotaped testimony, new hearsay exceptions, and other more extensive proposals for change.

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