"Please believe me; I am the biggest liar that exists": Characterising children's recantations during forensic investigations

Carmit Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The current study seeks to characterise the way that children recant previously reported alleged abuse during forensic investigations. Through thematic analysis, the current study aims to examine the challenging phenomenon of recantation in children's narratives, their interactions with forensic interviewers and additional external information from the sample. Method: Twelve investigative interviews with children were sampled for the purposes of the current study. The study inclusion criteria included the following: a forensic investigation performed when the child discloses the alleged abuse, a forensic investigation when the child recants the alleged abuse, external evidence suggesting that abuse occurred (e.g., suspect admission or medical evidence) and no reported developmental disabilities in children. From the phenomenological paradigm, thorough thematic analysis was performed on all materials in the current study. The quality of the forensic investigations was also analysed in all the 24 investigations. Results: Six key categories were identified from the children's narratives and the external materials: the children's disclosure patterns, their first testimonies, their recantations, the familial and cultural contexts of the recantation and the professional's decision-making. In addition, the results addressed the quality of all 24 forensic investigations. Conclusions: Using the children's narratives and perceptions, the current study provides a unique opportunity to explore recantation. This information is highly significant for policymakers, practitioners and researchers who want to enhance their understanding of this phenomenon to assess it better and attempt to minimise its occurrence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-166
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Child abuse
  • Investigative interview
  • Recantation


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