alexa Suggestive interviewing in the McMartin Preschool and Kelly Michaels daycare abuse cases: A case study
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

Author(s): Nadja Schreiber, Lisa D Bellah, Yolanda Martinez, Kristin A McLaurin, Renata Strok

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In the 1980s and early 1990s the United States witnessed an outbreak of bizarre ‘‘daycare abuse’’ cases in which groups of young children levelled allegations of sexual and Satanic abuse against their teachers. In the present study, quantitative analyses were performed on a total of 54 interview transcripts from two highly publicised daycare cases (McMartin Preschool and Kelly Michaels) and a comparison group of child sexual abuse cases from a Child Protection Service (CPS). Confirming the impression of prior commentators, systematic analyses showed that interviews from the two daycare cases were highly suggestive. Compared with the CPS interviews, the McMartin and/or Michaels interviewers were significantly more likely to (a) introduce new suggestive information into the interview, (b) provide praise, promises, and positive reinforcement, (c) express disapproval, disbelief, or disagreement with children, (d) exert conformity pressure, and (e) invite children to pretend or speculate about supposed events.

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This article was published in Social Influence and referenced in Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

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