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Research in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Do Human Line Drawings Promote Children’s
Accurate Reporting of Touching

Principal Investigator: Maggie Bruck, Ph.D.

Although human line drawings (HLDs) are commonly used by medical, mental health, and educational professionals who interview children about suspected sexual abuse, there is little scientific information about their validity. The major objective of this proposal is to determine, within a cognitive developmental framework, the benefits and risks of using HLDs in interviews with 4-8-year-old children who are questioned about past events that involved "touching." In one set of studies the event involves a play activity and in the second set of studies the event involves a medical examination. The results of these studies will be important for professionals who interview children about sexual abuse or about their bodies in general. They will provide scientific information about the risks and benefits of a technique for young children who often do not readily provide important information when asked for it. In addition, guidelines for the most effective uses of the instrument will be provided. This study is not soliciting volunteers.

Study Coordinator: Kate Ollerhead   

Location: JHH medical clinics and local child sexual abuse centers 

Relationships of Metacognition and Suggestibility
in Middle Childhood

Principal Investigator: Maggie Bruck, Ph.D.

This project examines the development of metasuggestibility (awareness that a person’s report or memory of their personal experiences can be tainted by another person’s statements or suggestions) in middle childhood and the degree to which this metacognitive skill is causally related to children’s suggestibility in the middle childhood years. The research also examines if training children to be aware of suggestion in interviews can reduce their own suggestibility. The results of her studies will have important implications for constructing scientifically validated interviews that produce the most accurate reports from children and for constructing instruments to detect children who are prone to suggestive factors. These instruments can be adapted for use in schools, mental health, medical, and forensic contexts. This study in not soliciting volunteers.

Study Coordinator: Kate Ollerhead    

Location: Baltimore area schools and camps


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