Repeated questioning may provoke young children to fabricate events that never occurred. Although a child may first deny an event, false memories often develop through the imagination's response to persistent inquiry. Because a certain amount of suggestive questioning may be needed to convince a child to disclose information, difficulty lies in determining whether the child's response is authentic or induced by repetition. Accounts of false memories are often quite believable. This substantiates concern over the reliance of judges and juries on a child's testimony when it is the only available evidence in a legal case.
In a 1993 study of children ages 4-6, researchers from Chicago found that after 11 weeks of personal questioning, 56% of children reported at least one false event as true. Some children reported all false events as true. The testimonies of children are often the only evidence in cases of sexual abuse, and are therefore crucial. Approximately 20,000 children testify in sexual abuse trials each year, and as many as 100,000 are involved in investigations, many of which never go on trial. In 1988 a pre-school teacher from New Jersey was convicted on 115 counts of sexually abusing 19 children. The charges were based solely on testimonies of 3- to 5-year olds, who were subject to prior interrogation. Following four years of further investigation her conviction was overturned, as researchers raised more questions about potentially unreliable evidence of children after persistent inquiry.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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