If negative peer pressure is a primary factor in leading some youth to commit a crime, offense or violation, then positive peer pressure can be harnessed and redirected to become a positive force and lead other youth to adhere to the rule of law and become more productive citizens. Youth justice and juvenile justice voluntary diversion programs harness positive peer pressure and utilize it in a peer judgment setting to help address the anti-social, delinquent, and/or criminal behavior of youth. The ‘peer judgment’ and ‘positive peer pressure’ aspects of youth-led and volunteer-driven programs are the two primary elements which separate youth justice and juvenile justice voluntary diversion programs from all others.
Kosciusko Cares Teen Court partners with Kosciusko Juvenile Probation and area school districts to help improve outcomes for the teens, their families, and schools. Teen Court participants are referred by Juvenile Probation. Participants and parents appear in Teen Court where a Peer Jury hears their case presented by a teen prosecutor and teen defense attorney. We use an Adult Judge model for our Teen Court, so we also have a local attorney who is the Teen Court Judge. The Peer Jury ultimately decides on consequences for the participants’ actions using a Restorative Justice model looking at Community Engagement, Individual Accountability, and Competency Development. We offer the family and the participant an array of opportunities and do our best to individualize the process for each participant. The good news is that outcomes for Teen Court participants show that the majority of participants will not offend again. Our goal is to build skills and opportunities to help each person become successful where they are.
We have a working group of volunteer Teen Court Team Members who are committed to helping their peers in our community. Teen Court members are trained, complete a Teen Court Bar Exam, and are sworn in by the Kosciusko County Juvenile Court Judge. A volunteer attorney acts as Teen Court Judge.
We accept applications for Team Members from any high school student from Whitko, Wawasee, Warsaw, Triton, and Tippecanoe Valley Schools in April of each year for service the following school year. If you’re a teen and interested in earning volunteer hours and helping others, or an adult who knows a teen who would be interested, please have them contact us through the website or send an email to Marsha Carey: firstname.lastname@example.org
2018 Swearing In Ceremony with the Honorable Judge Cates, Kosciusko County Juvenile Court Judge
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