The National Science Foundation (NSF), Law and Social Science Division, has awarded Dr. Lindsay Malloy a research grant of $160,000 to study “Children’s Recantation of Adult Wrongdoing: In the Field and in the Lab.”
Children’s ability to maintain consistent abuse reports influences perceptions of their credibility. Recantation, which means that children disclose but then retract allegations, is an inconsistency in a story that raises problems for effective and fair protection of children. The reasons why children recant have been hotly debated in recent years. For this project, Dr. Malloy and a team of graduate and undergraduate students will conduct two studies: (1) a field study examining records of actual cases of child sexual abuse, and (2) an experiment examining children’s recantation of a minor act of wrongdoing in a laboratory context. Results will shed light on children’s developmental vulnerabilities and the social influences on their reports of events. Practically, results from the studies have implications for investigators, attorneys, fact finders, and expert witnesses.