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Home >  Community Based Prevention > Teen Court

Teen Court

Teen Courts, which are located in seven Philadelphia Public High Schools, a sentencing court run by teens for teens, which provides an alternative to traditional sanctions (such as suspension) for youth who are involved in Level One offences as described by the School District’s Code of Conduct. This youth empowerment program serves students who have admitted their guilt and places students in the roles of jury members, prosecuting and defense attorneys, clerks, bailiffs, warrant officers and judges. These students are trained not only for their role in court but also to be peer leaders in their school and community.

Program Goals

  • Prevent youth who commit minor school offenses from becoming involved in more serious offenses.
  • Hold youth accountable for their actions through positive approaches to reform (such as community service, restitution, letters of apology, mediation etc.)
  • Reduce the number of suspensions and school/class cutting.
  • Educate youth about the judicial process, the court system and their role in a democratic society.
  • Improve participants’ public speaking, critical thinking and conflict resolution skills
  • Provide a positive investigative and exploratory forum for students interested in Law Related Occupations.


The program is a collaborative efforts of Communities in Schools in Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia and Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. Numerous other organizations including the District Attorney’s Office, Philadelphia Police Department, Adult Probation and Parole, Philadelphia Public Defender’s Association and the US Attorney’s Office also provide guidance and support for the program.

Eligibility

Teen Court students are selected for the program by their teachers based on their potential to become peer leaders.

Activities

Students participating in the court receive extensive training on every aspect of court process including court roles, questioning techniques, confidentiality, conflict resolution, courtroom procedures, oral presentation and decision making. They are also exposed to a variety of trips and activities including:
  • Law Day at Berean Institute
  • Mock Trials with Federal Court Judges
  • Mentoring from attorneys with the Philadelphia Bar Association Young Lawyers Division
  • College Tours
  • Workshops with University of Pennsylvania Law Students
  • Community Service Projects
  • Career Exploration
  • National Teen Court Conferences

A six-week intensive summer training is also available to students who have spent at least one semester in the program. Students attending the summer program receive financial compensation, service learning project credit as well as elective or humanities credit.

Locations

The Teen Courts are located in the following high schools:
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Frankford
  • Kensington
  • Simon Gratz
  • South Philadelphia
  • Strawberry Mansion
  • West Philadelphia


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