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Preparing Paediatricians for Court: Evaluation of a Court Skills Training Programme

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: March-April 2012 Pages: 131-140
Colette Solebo; Peter Sidebotham; Chris Watson
Date Published
April 2012
10 pages
This article presents the results of an evaluation of a court skills training program that prepares pediatricians for testifying in court in cases involving allegations of child abuse.
This article examines a court skills training program developed by a working group of pediatricians and lawyers in the United Kingdom that aims to prepare pediatricians and pediatric trainees to participate in and provide testimony in child protection investigations. The course was modeled after a training course developed by the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health. The evaluation was based on feedback received from program facilitators and participants. A total of 15 student participants attended the first course, with 7 of the participants completing the scheduled observation of court proceedings 6 months after completion of the course. The evaluation found that participants who had completed the observation portion of the program reported a higher degree of satisfaction with the program than those who just completed the coursework. Overall, 87 percent of participants rated relevance, quality, and methods very highly, and 100 percent of participants considered all components of the course as relevant. Areas of the program noted for improvement were the ability to practice newly acquired skills on the course and to have post-mock trial debriefs involving the lawyers. The findings of the evaluation show that court skills training programs can improve pediatricians' confidence in accessing and presenting evidence in court in child protection investigations. Study limitations are discussed. Tables and references