Imagine walking into a courtroom where the defendant and the court officers (i.e., lawyers, court clerk, bailiffs, jurors and sometimes the judge) all are under the age of nineteen. At first, you might think you’ve made a mistake or that you were witnessing a mock trial. However, in a growing number of communities around America, this is exactly the type of setting and approach being used to handle minor juvenile cases.
Adolescence is a time when young people develop skills, habits, and attitudes that will prepare them as they transition to adulthood. Teen courts serve a dual function for adolescents: First, they provide a means for holding youthful offenders accountable and second they educate youth on the legal system while offering youth in the community an avenue for developing, enhancing, and practicing life skills.
The Role of Conflict Resolution in Teen Courts:
Expanding life skills for our youth Teen Court and Conflict Resolution are a natural fit. Both purport to serve youth by developing skills necessary to function as responsible members of society. While Teen Court educates youth in ideas about justice through accountability, conflict resolution skills offer the youth the tools to practice the court model, and ultimately utilize these skills beyond the Court setting.