The streets of Rio de Janeiro and other urban parts of Brazil are notorious for children living in deplorable conditions and falling victim to violent crimes. The Center for Public Policy Research (CPPR) at UC Davis recently began assisting the Brazilian government in efforts to redefine the country’s laws regarding child victims.

An unfortunate consequence of prosecuting these types of crimes is that children become embroiled in the legal system and potentially re-traumatized by repeated forensic interviews and testifying in court. With recommendations from worldwide experts including UC Davis Distinguished Professor and CPPR Director Gail S. Goodman, Brazil hopes to identify and implement alternative methods for collecting testimony from children in a manner that doesn’t further traumatize them.

Goodman was invited to give a keynote presentation at an international conference in August sponsored by Childhood Brazil, the Special Human Rights Secretariat (part of the Brazilian government) and the Brazilian Association of Child and Youth Court Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys. Her talk focused on the research findings reviewed by CPPR team members Michael Lawler, Ph.D., Ingrid Cordon, Ph.D., graduate research assistants Christin Ogle and Natalie Troxel, and Goodman herself. Goodman’s award-winning UC Davis laboratory produced much of the research.

“The goal of the Center for Public Policy Research here at UC Davis is to bring science to policy, and it’s especially thrilling to do so in a country as far away and fascinating as Brazil,” Goodman says.

In addition to speaking at the conference and providing consultation to Brazil on this initiative, Goodman and the CPPR research team recently authored a chapter in a book published by the Brazilian government. The chapter presented the latest scientific research on child victims’ abilities, reactions and needs when children undergo forensic interviews or testify in court.

“It’s a great honor to be a psychology professor and the director of CPPR. Working with talented colleagues and students, contributing to science, and helping child victims in the U.S. and internationally—it’s a dream come true for me,” adds Goodman.