For Children

All you need to know about the hearing

The hearing is one of the steps followed during criminal proceedings. It consists of a discussion between the child victim or witness and the prosecuting authorities, the subject of the discussion being the events in which you, as a victim or witness, took part. These agencies can be either police officers, prosecutors or judges who specialize in working with children. Victim refers to a person to whom something bad has happened, usually caused by another person (this is called the accused), and a witness is a person who was there or saw what happened.

Sometimes this discussion between you (victim or witness) and the person assigned to talk to you takes place in a small, friendly room with simple furniture and comfortable chairs, where you can feel as relaxed as possible to recount the events that have happened to you. This room is called a hearing room and gives you the opportunity to be alone with the police officer, prosecutor or judge so you don’t feel pressured or constrained.

Many children who end up talking to police, prosecutors or judges are nervous and fear that they might not be believed, that the answers they give are wrong or that they might be judged by the people around them. That’s why it’s very important that you tell the truth about the things that have happened to you and that you want to convey when you are in this situation. During the discussion, there is also the possibility that you may not remember certain things, and then it is necessary to say that you don’t remember or that you don’t know. Remember: it’s perfectly normal to forget things or not remember them, especially if you’ve been through something unpleasant. If you feel nervous, you should know that there will always be a psychologist present at these types of discussions to help you manage your emotions. But there are solutions that you can apply yourself: just take a deep breath and think that no one is there to judge you, but to help you, and the people you talk to are prepared for such discussions with children.

Because all these steps taken by the judicial bodies are intended to help you, there are several rights you have during this process and beyond. These include:

  • The right to be heard: people who come to talk to you are interested in your story and what you have to say. That’s why they will listen to you with interest and ask you questions so they can find and punish the person who hurt you.
  • The right to be informed: every child has the right to be fully informed about the procedures to be carried out. This information must be conveyed in a way that is as understandable as possible, using a language that you know and are familiar with.
  • The right to be protected: whether you are a victim or a witness of an unpleasant event, one of your rights is to be protected. This protection is about avoiding reliving unpleasant feelings caused by the event, creating a safe environment in which to reveal the truth, avoiding contact with the person who hurt you, designating people you trust to talk to who will be there for you and care about your well-being.
  • The right to express their opinions: a child’s opinion is important for future activities. Feedback from you during court proceedings, including during the hearing, can help the person conducting the hearing to work out what they think is appropriate for your age and what you understand and what you don’t.

This information will help you be prepared if you find yourself in one of these situations. It’s important to have this knowledge of how the hearing goes, so you can make it clear in your mind that you have nothing to fear from telling the truth! Congratulations on being brave!



European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and Council of Europe, 2022, „Handbook on European law relating to the rights of the child”.