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HOME > Victim Witness > Kids' Court

 
  Kids' Court  
 

Court awareness programs have evolved in several communities over the past few years in response to the growing number of court cases involving child victim/witnesses. Typically, these cases include children involved in allegations of physical or sexual abuse, or neglect, or children who have witnessed a violent crime. As more of these cases are reported, more investigations and filings in criminal and juvenile court follow. This has compelled a more critical examination of how court systems deal with children as victims and witnesses. The result has been an acknowledgment of the systems shortcomings and the development of programs to improve the criminal jusKuma the Courtroom Beartice response.


One such innovation is the "court school" concept. This approach rests on the belief that kids can learn to view the experience of going to court in a more positive and less intimidating manner. When a child learns something about the judicial process and gains some familiarity with a courtroom, he or she is less likely to be frightened and more likely to participate fully in the process. Hence, justice can be served and the rights of all involved protected.


Tulare County Kids' Court is organized and operated by the Office of the District Attorney in collaboration with several agencies and interested persons to assist children through the judicial process by familiarizing them with the court environment, personnel and process. This educational process is accomplished by meeting the various individuals connected with the court system who explain what they do and respond to questions from both children and parents, all in a courtroom setting. Professional Therapists along with trained volunteers interact with the children and their caretakers to help them understand and express their own feelings and deal with the stress associated with "going to court." The goal is to strengthen children to cope with the judicial process while affirming the responsibility to tell the truth.


In the past, child witnesses were prepared for the experience on an individual basis. Kids' Court makes it possible to help children get ready for court by participating in a supportive group experience. This group serves as a powerful reminder that other children face similar circumstances and will also testify in court.

Parents and caretakers are included in Kids' Court for they too experience a wide range of emotions that are filled with questions. Their support and understanding has significant impact on the ability of a child to cope with court and to be healed. Parents will have the opportunity to privately address any concerns or special needs.

 

For more information call (559) 636-5471.

 
     


Office of the District Attorney, County of Tulare
 ▫  221 S Mooney Blvd, Rm 224, Visalia, CA 93291-4593    (559) 636-5494
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