Witch hunts relied primarily on testimony from children.
In 17th-century New England, Sweden and the Basque provinces of Spain, children were the most important sources for allegations against supposed witches. Evidence from 17th-century Sweden aligns with modern psychological research; preschool-age children in particular are more vulnerable to suggestion and influence from interviewers and peers than are older children. These findings have contributed to legitimate concerns about suggestive interviewing of child witnesses in modern cases. But when experts in psychiatry and pediatrics, such as professors Susan Hatters Friedman and Andrew Howie, highlight the use of child witnesses during witch persecutions, they obscure the fact that children were the main driver of a small percentage of witch panics.
In fact, in most cases, far more testimonies came from adults and were provided under torture, as Brian P. Levack and H.C. Erik Midelfort show. During interrogations carried out with torture, suspects would not only willingly confess to deeds that were inconsistent with the rules of nature (like flying) but also provide the names of an abundance of alleged accomplices. As these accomplices were subsequently rounded up and interrogated, even more names of yet more suspects would appear. As a result, torture tended to lead to mass trials — and more victims.