SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMC811501
Module Leader Josie Williams
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Psychology
  • B (January start)

Summary of Content

Concerned with the application of knowledge of child and adolescent development to the investigation and understanding of a variety of legal matters arising where children are involved (either as witnesses, perpetrators, or as those affected by adult dispute). Emphasis will be placed upon hypothesis testing and data collection, with contrast given where necessary with adult work. Emphasis will also be placed on the use of psychological methodology and information to reach recommendations applied to legal decisions.


1. Working with children and familes: the developmental and legal context 2. Interviewing children* 3. Children as witnesses ** 4. Child protection 5. Assessment of parenting and relationships 6. The law of adoption, residence, contact and abduction cases 7. Psychological factors in adoption, residence, contact and abduction cases 8. Reparation and children as victims 9. Conduct disorders 10. Child offenders ** 11. Provision and intervention for child offenders 12. Future directions; module review * Workship ** Team Seminar

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to describe and discuss:-- the gathering of developmental information and assessment of behaviour of children and guardians that is relevant to legal considerations.- techniques and practice of interviewing children and young people of different ages.- interviewing of children as witnesses, and factors which may affect reported recall.- effects upon children of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.- the child protection system, its operation, and roles of various professionals.- factors affecting recommendations by psychologists to Courts, concerning residence and contact of children, and possible psychological reasons for children being returned to a county of origin after abduction.- the legal procedures surrounding adoption, and psychological factors affecting success of placement.- psychological sequelia for children and young people of various delicts, including physical injury, burns and scarring, PTSD, and the potential effects of psychological professional misconduct, within the reparation process.- the nature of conduct disorders in children, aetiology, and development, and with particular reference to serious offences including murder.- the efficacy and outcomes of treatment strategies for children and young people who offend.- the future development of applications of developmental psychology to legal settings, with particular reference to the Children (Scotland) Act.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Lectures with discussion and exercises. Practical/workshop sessions including evaluation of authentic material. Seminars involving reparation and presentations by group members. Directed independent and private study.

Indicative Reading

On advice from the librarian, instead of providing unstable individual URL links to help you access material, the following generic approach will work for all modules and all journals. For all modules, books on the indicative reading lists have been 'tagged' by the library so the easiest way to access them is to go to the library home page and then the catalogue search, type in the module code (MMC811501) and select the 'reading list keyword' option. You will then be able to access all the key books linked to each course. In order to access the journal articles referenced, you should again go to the library website and then select the journal search option and search using the name of the journal, then following the link to the volume, issues and article you want. You may have to enter your Athens username and password at some point. If so, and you cannot remember it, you can access this by linking onto 'my Caledonian' selecting the 'Athens' tab (top right) and using the information given there. Almond, L, Canter, D & Salfati, G(2006) Youths who harm: a multivariate model of characteristics Journal of Sexual Aggression, 12 (2), 97 - 114. Bull, R (2001). Children and the Law. The Essential Readings. Oxford: Blackwell Ceci, S.J. and Bruck, M. (1993). Suggestibility of the child witness: a historical review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 3, 403-439. Crawford, E & Bull, R (2006) Teenagers' Difficulties with Key words regarding the criminal court Process, Psychology Crime & Law, 12 (6) 653 - 667. Crawford, E & Bull, R (2006) Child Witness Support and Preparation Child Abuse Review, 15 (4), 97 - 114. Dufour, S, Lavergne, C, Larrive, M & Trocm, N (2008) Who are these parents involved in child neglect? Children and youth Services Review, 30 (2) 141 - 156. Fratter, J., Rowe, J., Sapsford, D. and Thoburn, J. (1991). Permanent Family Placement: A Decade of Experience. London: British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering Research Series. Furnell, J.R.G. (1996). Legal issues. In L. Harding and J.R. Beech (Eds.) Assessment in Neuropsychology. London: Routledge. Furnell, J.R.G., Dutton, P.V. and Harris, J. (1988). Emotional abuse referrals to a Scottish Children's Panel Reporter over five years. Medicine, Science and Law, 28, 3, 219-226. Forrester, D, Kershaw, S, Moss, H, & Hughes, L (2008) Communications Skills in child protection: how do social workers talk to parents? Child and Family Social Work, 13 (1), 41 - 51. Goetting, A. (1989). Patterns of homicide among children. Criminal Justice and Behaviour, 16, 1, 63-80. Hoyano, L & Keenan, C (2007) Law and Policy Across Boundaries, New York: Oxford University Press. Loeber, R. (1990). Development and risk factors of juvenile antisocial behaviour and delinquency. Clinical Psychology Review, 10, 1-42. Reiter, S, Bryen, D & Shachar, I (2007) Adolescents with intellectual disabilities as victims of abuse, Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 11 (4), 371- 387. Rivers, J, Maze, C, Hannah, S & Lederman, C (2007) Domestic Violence Screening and service acceptance among adult victims in a dependency court setting, Child Welfare Journal, 86(1) 123 - 144. Schneiderman, J, Brooks, D, Facher, B & Amis, J (2007) Improving health services for foster youth, Children and Youth Services Review, 29 (3) 313 - 328. Sedlak, A, Schultz, D, Wells, S Lyons, P, Doueck, H & Gragg, F (2007) Whild Protection and justice systems processing of serious child abuse and neglect cases, Child Abuse and Neglect, 30 (6), 657 - 677. Spencer, J.R. and Flin, R. (1992). The Evidence of Children. London: Blackstone Press. Stahl, P. M. (1994) Conducting Child Custody Evaluations: A Comprehensive Guide. California: Sage. Street, K, Whitlingum, G, Gibson, P Cairns, P & Ellis, M (2008) Is adequate parenting compatible with maternal drug use? A five year follow up, Child Care, Health and Development, 34(2), 204 - 206. Townson, L & Chapman, R (2008) Review of Finding the Right Support? A review of issues and positive practice in supporting parents with learning difficulties and their children, British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36 (1), 75 - 77. Verduyn, C. and Smith, H. (1995). Children and clinical assessments. In R. Bull and D. Carson (Eds.) Handbook of Psychology in Legal Contexts. Chichester: Wiley. Vizard, E, Hickey, E French, L & McCrory, E (2007) Children and adolescents who present with sexually abusive behavior: a UK descriptive study, Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 18 (1) 59 - 73. Weiner, R, Bornstein, B, Schopp, R, Willborrn, S (2007) Social Consciousness

Transferrable Skills

transferable skills include: knowledge of child development, knowledge of legal system applied to children, observation of child and family interaction, report writing, criticism of child interviewing for forensic purposes.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (PT) 12.00
Independent Learning (PT) 106.00
Practicals (FT) 6.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Seminars (FT) 6.00
Practicals (PT) 6.00
Seminars (PT) 6.00
Independent Learning (FT) 106.00
Lectures (FT) 12.00
Assessment (PT) 20.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 0.00 100.00 50% Essay 4-5000 words