At a high school in downtown Manhattan, sophomores and juniors created a school-based Youth Court to improve school safety and student behavior.
Through Youth Court, students are trained to serve as jurors, judges and attorneys, handling real-life cases involving their peers. The goal is to use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who have committed minor offenses both pay back the community and receive the help they need to stay out of trouble and succeed in school. A Youth Court does not decide guilt or innocence; to participate a student must admit violating school rules. The Youth Court jury focuses on determining the appropriate rehabilitative sanctions which can include community service, reflective essays and letters of apology.