Safeguarding Youth Interrogation Rights: Enhancing Legal Literacy through Technology

Lay Summary 

We are studying whether presenting youth their rights in a multimedia format can increase their comprehension beyond the understanding currently obtained by traditional methods (e.g., presenting the rights verbally). Youth are a vulnerable population, as they may not understand the complexity of the legal system, and may not know how to use their rights. In fact, research in our lab has shown that youth only understand about 40% of the rights read to them by police (Eastwood, Snook, & Luther, 2015). However, we have also found that removing complicated words, shortening the content, and repeating important information can increase understanding to 80% (Eastwood, Snook, Luther, & Freedman, in press). This is important, because youth can only benefit from the protections of their rights if they understand them, and they more they understand the better protected they are. Using scientific psychological theories such as cognitive load theory, we have created and are empirically testing a video that is designed to foster maximum understanding of rights among youth. Cognitive load theory demonstrates that presenting information via two sensory modalities (i.e., visual and audio) increases comprehension compared to presentation in only one sensory modality (Brewer, Harvey, & Semmler, 2004; Hoffler & Leutner, 2007; Paas, Renkl, & Sweller, 2003). Therefore, we expect that youth will be able to better understand their rights through an audiovisual animation, as opposed to them being read by a police officer.

St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Youth Advocacy
Human Rights
Legal Aid
Industry Sectors 
Legal Services
Start date 
1 Jan 2016