Police practices and perceptions regarding juvenile interrogation and interrogative suggestibility

Behav Sci Law. 2007;25(6):757-80. doi: 10.1002/bsl.774.


Recent media coverage has highlighted cases in which young suspects were wrongly convicted because they provided interrogation-induced false confessions. Although youth may be more highly suggestible and easily influenced by authority than adults, police are trained to use the same psychologically coercive and deceptive tactics with youth as with adults. This investigation is the first standard documentation of the reported interrogation practices of law enforcement and police beliefs about the reliability of these techniques and their knowledge of child development. Participants were 332 law enforcement officers who completed surveys about interrogation procedures and developmental issues pertaining to youth. Results indicated that, while police acknowledge some developmental differences between youth and adults, there were indications that (1) how police perceive youth in general and how they perceive and treat them in the interrogation context may be contradictory and (2) their general view is that youth can be dealt with in the same manner as adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adolescent Development
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Baltimore
  • Coercion*
  • Comprehension
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods*
  • Law Enforcement / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Police*
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Social Perception*
  • Truth Disclosure*