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“Justice for Youth by Youth” is the theme of this year’s Teen Court training.
“Our volunteers are the most important component of the Teen Court Program,” said Teen Court Director Glenda Ansley, “and this year the student volunteers will be focusing on service learning.”
As students are giving back to their community by volunteering in Teen Court, they will receive hands-on training in the justice system.
All area youth between the ages of 13 and 18 are invited to attend trainings from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, and Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Brunswick County Courthouse. The sessions, sponsored by Communities in Schools and the district attorney’s office, are open to all students who are curious about the justice system and related fields and who would like to become actively involved in their communities.
Volunteers will be trained to conduct real court sessions for first-time juvenile offenders committing misdemeanor crimes. The volunteers will learn the responsibilities of jurors, clerk of court, bailiffs, prosecutors and defense attorneys.
“Our Teen Court sessions mirror regular court sessions in every way possible,” Ansley said. “Students get a very realistic, ‘hands on’ experience in volunteering for Teen Court.”
Jurors are trained in the concept of restorative justice that focuses on the juvenile accepting responsibility for his/her actions and repairing harm caused by delinquent and problematic behaviors. Jurors look at aggravating and mitigating factors and will unanimously decide on a constructive sentence for the offender that will keep the offender from returning to the juvenile justice system.
In addition to jury training, students will learn duties of other courtroom positions. Trainers include representatives from the Brunswick County Bar Association, district attorney’s office, clerk of court’s office and the sheriff’s office. Each representative will give an overview of their specific duties in the courtroom and will provide mentoring for roles throughout the year.
Benefits for the student volunteers include: participating in the justice process; learning how to work together with students throughout the county; performing service to their community; making a stand for crime prevention in our community; and an opportunity for scholarships sponsored by the Southport-Oak Island Kiwanis, Brunswick County Bar Association and Communities in Schools.
Teen Court is a partnership program between Communities in Schools and the district attorney’s office. The Brunswick County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council provides funding for the program.
If you would like to volunteer or have questions concerning the program, call Ansley, Teen Court director, at 253-8220. Additional information can be found at www.cisbrunswick.org.