An Update on Teen Court Legislation
Michele E. Heward
(September 2006)
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This document provides an overview of ideas that were presented and discussed during a series of forums and field trips that the American Youth Policy Forum conducted in 2002-2003 that focused on issues related to the development of effective citizenry and youth engagement. Within the document, there is a chapter on “The Power of Youth Court to Build an Effective Citizenry” that describes events and results of a field trip that AYPF organized for policymakers to observe community- and school-based youth courts in West Palm Beach and Broward counties in Florida. The document concludes with recommendations for practices and policies to promote the development of effective and engaged young citizens.

To order a copy of this publication ($5.00 per copy), contact:
American Youth Policy Forum
Publications Dept.
1836 Jefferson Place, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-775-9731
Fax: 202-775-9733

“Getting the Most Out of the Deliberation Process” – Video and Facilitator Guide 
American Probation and Parole Association/Council of State Governments in
(April 2002; Video features two 20-minute segments; Facilitator Guide, 13 pages)
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This interactive video features two 20-minute scenarios designed to help educate youth court volunteers, especially new jurors and judge panelists, on some issues they should consider to help them determine a fair, appropriate, and restorative disposition (i.e., sentence) for youth court defendants/respondents. The deliberation process is one of the most important components of a youth court hearing. The disposition recommended by youth jurors or judges should have components that will help the defendant/respondent understand his/her actions; offer opportunities to make amends and appreciate and repair the harm that he/she caused; and increase his/her skills, competencies, and ties to the community.

The video comes with a Facilitator Guide that includes a lesson that youth courts can follow when using the video to instruct and educate their volunteers.

Making Youth Court as Effective as Possible 
Technical Assistance Bulletin #25
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Order publication Measuring Bullying Victimization, Perpetration and Bystander Experiences: A Compendium of Assessment Tools 
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Injury Center

Bullying, particularly among school-age children, is a public health problem both domestically and internationally. In a 2009 nationally representative sample of youth in grades 9–12, 20% reported being bullied at school in the previous year. Five percent of students did not go to school because they felt they would be unsafe at school or on their way to or from school at least once in the previous 30 days.

Given that numerous measures of bullying experiences exist, researchers and practitioners may find it challenging to identify which of the available measures is appropriate for assessing a particular bullying experience. Some researchers continue to examine the risk and protective factors associated with bullying experiences. Others are working to design, implement, and evaluate bully prevention interventions aimed at reducing bully victimization and perpetration, as well as increasing prosocial bystander involvement in bullying situations.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Injury Center is pleased to announce the release of  Measuring Bullying Victimization, Perpetration and Bystander Experiences: A Compendium of Assessment Tools

This compendium provides researchers, prevention specialists, and health educators with tools to measure a range of bullying experiences: bully perpetration, bully victimization, bully-victim experiences, and bystander experiences. This compendium represents a starting point from which researchers can consider a set of psychometrically sound measures for assessing self-reported incidence and prevalence of a variety of bullying experiences.

To learn more about youth violence and how you can prevent it in your community, visit the


National Youth Court Guidelines 
Tracy M. Godwin, Michelle E. Heward, and Tom Spina, Jr.
(2000; 146 pages)
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Developed by the American Probation and Parole Association/Council of State Governments (which administered the National Youth Court Center), the National Youth Court Guidelines are designed to give youth courts direction for developing and operating effective programs for the ultimate purpose of increasing program accountability and integrity of the “youth court field.” Each chapter begins with a brief overview of the guidelines that are recommended for that particular program area. Afterwards, each guideline is discussed in more detail. A rationale for each guideline, as well as tips for implementing each guideline is included. At the conclusion of each chapter there is a section that identifies some outcomes youth court programs might reasonably expect if they adhere to the recommendations made in the guidelines.


Download this publication Peer Justice and Youth Empowerment: An Implementation Guide for Teen Court Programs
Tracy M. Godwin, David J. Steinhart, and Betsy Fulton
(1996; revised in 1998; 176 pages, plus appendices)
The American Probation and Parole Association, which administered the National Youth Court Center, developed Peer Justice and Youth Empowerment: An Implementation Guide for Youth Courts to provide program organizers with baseline information on developing, implementing, and enhancing teen court programs within their jurisdictions. Rather than endorsing one particular model of teen court, this manual provides program organizers and potential stakeholders with a general overview of issues to consider and guides them through a decision making process for the implementation of a teen court program that fits local needs. Sample forms and other helpful resources are also included as supplementary materials.


Selected Topics on Youth Court: A Monograph
Editor: Tracy Godwin Mullins
(2004, 118 pages)
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Developed by the American Probation and Parole Association/Council of State Governments which administered the National Youth Court Center, this monograph features papers on the following six topics:

  • Addressing Truancy in Youth Court Programs
  • Underage Drinking and Other Substance Abuse: Opportunities for Prevention and Intervention by Youth Courts
  • An Overview of School-Based Youth Court Program Design Options
  • Building Culturally Relevant Youth Courts in Tribal Communities
  • A Comparison of Statewide Youth Court Associations and Networking Groups
  • Media Access Guidelines for Youth Courts


Serving Communities, Changing Lives: Success Stories 
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Every youth court can relate a favorite anecdote or two about how its program has had a positive impact on individuals and their communities.  Maybe it’s a story about a former respondent who joined youth court as a volunteer after completing his youth court disposition, and later in life became an attorney. Or, maybe it is a story about a shy young girl who never felt confident enough to speak up in class before she volunteered for youth court and had an opportunity to learn and practice public speaking skills on a regular basis.

The “success stories” included within this document are heartwarming and a joy to read. They remind us of the wonderful benefits that youth court programs offer to our nation’s young people, families, and communities.


Street Law for Youth Courts: Educational Workshops 
Lena Morreale Scott
(2001; Revised 2002; Revised 2006)
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Developed by Street Law, Incorporated, through a subcontract with the National Youth Court Center and OJJDP, Street Law for Youth Courts: Educational Workshops is designed as an information resource for youth courts when establishing their educational workshops/programs.  These interactive lessons focus on the most frequent offenses for which youth are referred to youth court: theft, possession of alcohol, possession of marijuana, vandalism, and traffic violations.  The lessons include instructor’s guides, lesson plans, and handouts for youth participants.  The lessons are designed to initiate a law-related education program as sentencing options for youth court offender.  The lessons also may be used to train youth court volunteers.


Teen Courts: A Focus on Research 
Jeffrey A. Butts and Janeen Buck
(OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin; October 2000; 16 pages)
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This bulletin provides information on characteristics of teen court programs, as gathered by the Evaluation of Teen Courts Project, and the operational and managerial problems they face. It also summarizes the evaluation literature on teen courts.

To order a copy of this bulletin (free of charge), contact:
Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse
Reference number NCJ 183472


View this publication Teen Courts: A Promising Prevention Strategy? 
The Urban Institute, Jeffrey A. Butts
July 30, 2001


The Impact of Teen Court on Young Offenders 
Jeffrey A. Butts, Janeen Buck, and Mark B. Coggeshall
(April 2002; 48 pages)
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This is the first report of findings from the Evaluation of Teen Courts Project, which was conducted by the Urban Institute and funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The Evaluation of Teen Courts Project studied teen courts in four states: Alaska, Arizona, Maryland, and Missouri. Researchers measured pre-court attitudes and post-court recidivism among more than 500 juveniles referred to teen court for nonviolent offenses, such as shoplifting and vandalism. The study compared recidivism outcomes for teen court defendants with outcomes for youth handled by the regular juvenile justice system.

To order this publication ($9.50, Pub ID# 410457), contact:
Urban Institute Press
In the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area call (202) 261-5687
Outside the D.C. area, call toll-free: 1-877-UIPRESS
Fax: (202) 467-5775

The Organization and Operation of Teen Courts in the United States: A Comparative Analysis of Legislation 
Michelle E. Heward, J.D.
(2002, 17 pages)
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The Role of Restorative Justice in Teen Courts: A Preliminary Look 
Tracy M. Godwin
(2001; 8 pages)
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In March 2000, the American Probation and Parole Association convened a focus group to examine and discuss the role of restorative justice in teen court programs (also called youth and peer courts). The panel consisted of persons working actively in teen courts and persons working actively in more traditional restorative justice-based programs.

This paper provides a brief overview of restorative justice principles and addresses several key issues the focus group members identified that serve as a promising foundation from which teen courts can begin to move toward integrating more restorative justice-based practices within their programs. Key issues discussed include how youth courts can rethink the role of victims and the community within their programs, how youth courts can alter the way that their proceedings and practices are structured, and how youth courts can rethink and redefine sentencing options so that they are based on the restorative justice philosophy.


View this article The Sudden Popularity of Teen Court 
Jeffrey A. Butts, Janeen Buck
March 01, 2002


Youth Cases for Youth Courts 
Margaret Fisher
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This referral guide is designed to help new youth court make decisions about what types of cases to hear in youth court and to provide existing youth courts with advice from the field on how to approach expanding the types of cases that they hear.

Youth Court Training for Results 
Technical Assistance Bulletin
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Youth Court: A Community Solution for Embracing At-Risk Youth – A National Update 
Sarah S. Pearson and Sonia Jurich
(2005; 32 pages)
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Youth court is rapidly expanding alternative to the juvenile justice system for young people who have committed non-violent offenses, growing from 78 programs in 1994 to 1,050 in August 2005. The goal of this report, developed by the American Youth Policy Forum, is to provide policymakers and the public with an overview of youth court programs including their characteristics and benefits. A great resource for national data regarding youth served, who benefits from youth courts existence, recidivism, average operating costs, etc.


Youth Court: A National Movement 
Technical Assistance Bulletin #17
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Youth Court: A Path to Civic Engagement
(2003) Download this publication


Youth Courts: Young People Delivering Justice

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More frequently across the United States, young people are delivering justice to their peers who have engaged in their first delinquent act or other problem behavior.  At the same time, these young people are learning important citizenship knowledge and skills. Youth courts, also known as teen courts and peer juries, involve volunteers from 8 to 18 years of age in sentencing their peers for crimes, traffic infractions, or school rule violations.

Instead of being ignored by the juvenile court system for a minor offense, youth court respondents1 confront and address the impact of their behavior on all victims. Instead of just paying a fine in traffic court, youth who commit traffic infractions explore the impact of their careless driving and have a chance to find out more about the harm they caused. Instead of being suspended from school for multiple truancies, youth court respondents learn what impact truancy has on themselves, their families, their schoolmates, and the community. In each case, young people get a chance to make up for the harm they caused and develop needed competencies.

This Roadmap examines the nature, structure, and benefits of youth courts and explores the roles played by a variety of government and community entities. It highlights examples of successful youth courts throughout the United States – ones based in juvenile justice settings, community settings, and school settings. It spotlights unique innovations in youth courts and discusses statewide associations that play a role in supporting and networking youth courts within a state.