Measuring and Celebrating Child Protective Prosecutions
Law Aritao
Fri Sep 16 2022

Successful prosecution forms part of an effective response to online sexual exploitation of children. When prosecutions involve child victims, the conviction of the accused is one aspect of success. The other is found in the duty of care exercised to prevent re-traumatization of child victims.

I recently co-authored a paper based on this very idea. In Child Protective Prosecutions: A Strength-based, Child-centered, Approach to assessing conviction results, we contend that the most successful prosecutions achieve conviction in a child-protective and trauma-informed manner. The paper provides a method to rapidly assess convictions using two legal standards in criminal cases with child victims: the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt, and the duty of care.

The methodology takes existing standards for conviction (proof beyond reasonable doubt) and child protection (the best interests of the child), and maps them against case results through three questions:

  1. Was conviction achieved without child testimony?

  2. Were child protective measures used?

  3. In cases where children were presented, is there data showing that they felt protected?   

This paper uses a strength-based approach, meaning results are assessed from the baseline of a Positive result: a conviction is achieved. Above Positive is Strong: a conviction is achieved with child protective measures. Finally, Strongest: a conviction is achieved independent of child participation or, a conviction validated by the survivor as child-protective.

The paper reviewed eight Philippine cases, resulting in five Strongest results, two Strong, and one Positive.

The child protection measures reported included electronically recorded testimony, use of digital evidence, and plea agreements. Records also showed multiple agencies contributed to these child-protective measures. 

If interested, you can access the full paper here.