Debate continues in the current literature regarding how, or whether, traumatic experiences affect memory (Howe, Cicchetti, Toth, & Cerrito, 2004; Howe, Toth, & Cicchetti, 2006). Although the resolution of whether or not trauma has a unique impact on memory is important from a theoretical and scientific perspective, it also possesses significant clinical and social policy implications. Issues such as the age at which trauma occurs and the relation between trauma and emotional and behavioral difficulties have major consequences for determining when, or if, one should intervene with children who have been traumatized. In addition, the accuracy of eyewitness memory and the suggestibility of young children's memories affect decisions regarding whether officials are confident about relying on child reports to substantiate abuse and neglect, as well as the viability of child testimony in the courtroom.
In this chapter, we briefly highlight the extant literature on trauma and memory, with a particular focus on child maltreatment and memory. This précis serves as the foundation for examining the clinical and social-policy implications of this body of research for children who have been victimized by abuse and neglect.
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