Student-run youth court expands to three more Metro schools
Program brings together Tennessee Bar Assoc., Juvenile Court, Student Attendance Center & Metro Schools
Following a successful launch at Cane Ridge High School’s Academy of Law, three more Metro high schools are launching student-run youth court programs.
Students from McGavock High School’s Academy of Health Science and Law, Whites Creek High School’s Academy of Education and Law and Antioch High School’s Academy of Teaching and Service will take the first steps in starting new courts with a joint training conference.
“Youth court offers a tremendous teaching environment for adolescents,” said Juvenile Court Judge Sophia Brown Crawford. “It also demonstrates that there is accountability for those who are facing minor offenses.”
In youth court, students assume roles as court officials. They hear and decide cases involving other young people who are first time offenders and have been cited for low-level offenses like vandalism, shoplifting and truancy. The program is a perfect fit for Metro’s Academies of Nashville, where students are encouraged to get real-world experience in career fields they might pursue after graduation.
“I can’t think of anything more ‘real-world’ than having the opportunity to work in an authentic courtroom setting while working on actual cases that are being tried in a court of law,” said McGavock Principal Robbin Wall. “These students are getting a once in a lifetime chance to be involved with our criminal justice system and not only see the inner workings of a courtroom but to be an active participant. These experiences will allow our students to make better decisions regarding career choices as well as areas of study in college. The big advantage here is they get this experience while they are still in high school.”
The training and expansion of the youth court program in Metro Schools is a continuation of the collaboration with the Tennessee Bar Association, Metropolitan Nashville Juvenile Courts, Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC), and the MNPS Student Services Division.
The Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC) is a program operated by the Metro Nashville Juvenile Court in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Metro Nashville Police Department with the goal of decreasing truancy rates in Nashville schools by addressing the root causes of truancy.
The Tennessee Youth Court Program is a youth-driven delinquency prevention/intervention program that has spread to 16 communities throughout Tennessee. Ninety-three percent of the youth participating in the program do not re-offend. The Tennessee Youth Court Program is an initiative of the Tennessee Bar Association with funding from the State of Tennessee.