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YOUTH COURTS. David Keller Trevaskis, Esquire. Is this a youth?. What Is Project PEACE ?. Peer Mediation, Anti Bullying and Youth Court Program Sponsored by…. What Is Project PEACE ?. Peaceful Endings Attorneys Children Educators. What is Project PEACE ?.

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Youth courts


David Keller Trevaskis, Esquire

Is this a youth

Is this a youth?

What is project peace

What Is Project PEACE ?

Peer Mediation, Anti Bullying and Youth Court Program

Sponsored by…

What is project peace1

What Is Project PEACE ?

  • Peaceful

  • Endings

  • Attorneys

  • Children

  • Educators

What is project peace2

What is Project PEACE ?

  • Developed by attorney, mediator and former third grade teacher David Trevaskis in 1993 under the auspices of Indiana’s bar association and Attorney General.

  • Began in Pennsylvania in 1999. when then Attorney General and now Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Michael Fisher brought the program home after Columbine.

  • Implemented in over 120 elementary and high schools throughout the Commonwealth.

  • Over 200 schools trained.

  • Teaches students to deal with conflicts involving other students.

Objective of project peace

Objective of Project PEACE

  • Neutralize minor conflicts before they escalate to explosive confrontations that could potentially lead to violent acts.

  • Introduce participants to the peer mediation process and other conflict resolution techniques.

  • Provide participants with instruction about bullying prevention approaches such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. 

  • Provide Alternative Justice Opportunities Through Youth Courts.

Youth courts


Using the peer

mediation process

Recognizing that some disputes may involve problems such as bullying and should be handled by caring and trained adults or by adult referrals to school-based youth courts

Children become active participants in promoting positive behavior in their classrooms taking on the role of peacemaker by:


Who can participate in project peace

Who can Participate in Project PEACE

  • All schools

    • Public

    • Private

    • Parochial

    • Rural

    • Urban

    • Diverse in student populations

Can youth courts play a role what is a youth court

Can Youth Courts Play A Role?What Is a Youth Court?

A juvenile intervention program in which youth are sentenced by their peers in collaboration with adults.

Also referred to as:

Teen court

Peer court

Student court

Common youth volunteer roles in youth court hearings

Common Youth Volunteer Roles in Youth Court Hearings*

  • Defense Attorney (youth advocate)

  • Prosecuting Attorney (community advocate)

  • Clerk

  • Bailiff

  • Jurors

  • Sometimes, a youth judge

    *Volunteer roles will vary according to the program model the youth court utilizes.

What makes youth courts appealing

What Makes Youth Courts Appealing?

  • Serves as a prevention and early intervention program

  • Offers a way to hold juvenile offenders accountable

  • Provides a means for educating youth on the legal and judicial system

  • Provides a meaningful forum for youth to build competencies and practice and enhance skills

  • Offers an avenue for youth to provide service for and build ties to their communities

  • Youth empowerment

Youth courts

Somewhere Around 30 Youth Court Programs in Pennsylvania

Youth Courts

in PA

Common elements

Common Elements

  • Juvenile Diversion programs

  • Primary First-time low-level offenders – 1st or 2nd step in a system of graduated sanctions

  • Misdemeanor, non-violent cases

  • Most Require youth to admit to charge

  • Most are Voluntary participation

  • Parental consent/participation mandatory in most

Common sentencing options

Common Sentencing Options

  • More meaningful Community Service that are project oriented

  • Oral/Written Apologies to victims

  • Essays on the crime, offense or violation(s) they were referred to youth court for

  • Jury Duty in Youth Court

  • Educational Workshops on laws and consequences

Additional sentencing options

Additional Sentencing Options

  • Restitution

  • Alcohol/Drug Assessment – not treatment, as those cases should not be handled in youth court unless no other sanction/service exists.

  • Curfew

  • Tutoring

  • Victim Awareness Class or Panel

  • Drug Testing

  • Peer Mediation

Adult judge model

Adult Judge Model

  • Youth volunteers serve in the roles of:

    • Defense Attorneys

    • Prosecuting Attorneys

    • Clerks

    • Bailiffs

    • Jurors

  • Adult volunteer serves in the role of:

    • Judge

Youth judge model

Youth Judge Model

  • Youth volunteers serve in the role of:

    • Judge

    • Prosecuting Attorneys

    • Defense Attorneys

    • Clerks

    • Bailiffs

    • Jurors

Youth tribunal model

Youth Tribunal Model

  • Youth volunteers serve in the roles of:

    • Judge(s)

    • Defense Attorneys

    • Prosecuting Attorneys

    • Clerks

    • Bailiffs

  • There is NO PEER JURY

Peer jury model

Peer Jury Model

  • Youth volunteers serve as jurors and question the defendant directly

  • Some programs use youth and community advocates

National youth court program www youthcourt net

National Youth Court

  • Serves as an information clearinghouse for information on youth courts

  • Provides training and technical assistance

  • Develops and provides resources and publications

  • Website:

Support for youth court programs

Support for Youth Court Programs

In 2009 the Stoneleigh Foundation funded a three year fellowship to develop youth courts in Chester City and nurture a statewide youth court movement.

Stoneleigh extended the funded of Gregg Volz for 8 more months in December 2011—see for numerous court resources.

PCCD funded a two-year truancy prevention youth court initiative in York.

The Pennsylvania Bar Association passed a resolution supporting the establishment of a statewide youth court association in May 2011. See

Youth courts

David Keller Trevaskis, Esquire

Pro Bono Coordinator

Pennsylvania Bar Association

100 South Street

Harrisburg, PA 17101

800-932-0311, Ext. 2236

[email protected]

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