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					“I Will Not Divulge...” Protecting Privacy
and Confidentiality in Youth Courts
by Tracy Godwin Mullins
      The vast majority of youth courts in the United States have confidentiality           • What are the consequences for breaking confidentiality and
policies in place that provide respondents and their families with some assurance              privacy policies (e.g., for staff, for youth volunteers, for
that the information they provide during their involvement in youth court hearings             respondents, for parents/guardians, for witnesses, or other
will not be divulged. But how does the physical space provided by youth court                  observers of the program)?
programs help or hinder the ability to truly protect and preserve confidentiality?
When and how should a person’s privacy be respected? What happens if                      Educate Staff and Volunteers on Policies and Set
confidentiality is breached by volunteers or by staff? This article provides an           Clear Consequences for Breaches
overview of a few tips that youth courts should consider when establishing policies            To be effective, it is imperative that youth court staff and
and procedures that protect confidentiality and privacy. The ideas presented here         volunteers be educated on the program’s confidentiality and privacy
should not preclude discussions with appropriate legal advisers in the community.         policies. Programs should also clearly outline and inform staff and
Lawyers can offer valuable assistance to youth courts when they are establishing or       volunteers of consequences for breaching confidentiality and privacy
reviewing confidentiality and privacy policies and procedures.                            (see Figure one for some sample consequences given by various
                                                                                          youth courts for breaking confidentiality).
Establish Clear Confidentiality and Privacy Policies                                                                                                 continued on page 7
       While most youth courts establish confidentiality provisions for their programs,
many programs do not specifically address the issue of privacy in their policies and
procedures. Furthermore what is considered confidential may vary among programs.
It is important to understand that privacy is related to confidentiality, but the two
concepts are not always interchangeable. Confidentiality refers to when someone
gives another person information with the understanding that the information will
not be divulged to others. Within the youth court setting, privacy is more related
to the environment and refers to the condition of being secluded or isolated from
view of or from contact with others (American Heritage Dictionary, 1985). Therefore
the policies the youth court creates should help the program develop and maintain
an environment that allows for privacy and protects confidentiality.
       A program’s confidentiality and privacy policies and procedures should be
written. Some issues to consider and address when developing these policies include:         Youth Court: A Path to Civic Engagement ...................... 2
    • What type of information will be considered confidential?
    • Who is bound to confidentiality?
    • Is information deemed confidential done so by law, regulation, program policy,         The Importance of Ethical Standards in Youth Courts ... 3
       or program practice?
    • How will the program provide access to information to necessary persons or
       agencies without violating the rights of youth and their families?                    Youth Court News ......................................................... 4
    • How will the program develop its practices and arrange for physical space in a
       way that protects participants’ privacy?
                                                                                             National Youth Court Month .......................................... 5
                                                                                Youth Court: A Path to
                                                                                Civic Engagement
                                                                                    This new policy brief, written by Sarah H. Pearson,
                                                                                highlights some of the key benefits of youth courts and
 In Session is funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and
 Delinquency Prevention’s Juvenile Accountability Incentive                     discusses the various ways that youth courts help promote
 Block Grant Program and published by the National Youth
 Court Center. This publication may be reproduced in full for                   positive civic involvement. It is a great resource to share
 further noncommercial reproduction.
                                                                                with local, state, and federal policymakers when educating
 Production Coordinator: Mistene M. Vickers                                     them about youth court.
 Design and Layout: John R. Higgins
                                                                                    The policy brief may be downloaded on the NYCC’s
 In Session is available on-line at                         website at
 National Youth Court Center                                                    Policy_brief_civic_engagement.pdf. For more
 c/o American Probation and Parole Association
 P.O. Box 11910                                                                 information or to order a free copy of the policy brief,
 Lexington, KY 40578-1910
 Phone (859) 244-8193                                                           call the NYCC at (859) 244-8193 or email us at
 Fax: (859) 244-8001

NYCC Promotional Brochure
     The National Youth Court Center has designed and developed a promotional brochure which describes services that the NYCC provides. If
you are interested in receiving copies to distribute at conferences, trainings or other events, please contact the NYCC to inquire about availability.

NYCC Update
     The National Youth Court Center has developed a new NYCC Update—a monthly electronic communiqué on youth court and related
issues. The NYCC Update is automatically sent to every individual in the NYCC database who has an email address. To find out how to receive
the NYCC Update (or how to unsubscribe from the list), please visit the NYCC website at or email us at

New Features on the Youth Court Youth Website
      The National Youth Court Center has recently added two new resources to the Youth Court Youth website at especially
for youth volunteers. “Career Corner” features interviews with professionals currently working in various careers related to criminal and juvenile
justice and is meant to provide youth guidance and give additional information about possible career opportunities. Each interview provides
information describing the educational requirements for the position, skills that can be learned in youth court that can assist youth in the featured
career, and personal advice on what youth can do if they are interested in pursuing the featured career option. Each month, the NYCC will add a
new career to this section of the website.
      The other new resource on the Youth Court Youth website, “Speaking Confidently in Youth Court,” provides tips to assist youth in
developing confidence in their speaking abilities. Youth court provides the opportunity for youth to build confidence in public speaking by
making small and successful speeches in a role as a presiding judge, attorney, or a juror.

   Be sure to tell your youth volunteers to visit to
                  access these and other resources!
The Importance of Ethical Standards in
Youth Courts
 by Mary Fleischmann and Nancy Anne Livingston

      Youth courts need to establish ethical standards to help promote program            cases are public record, most youth courts keep youth court proceedings
accountability and integrity. While there are many similarities, ethical                  confidential to protect the respondent, his/her family, victim(s), or
standards vary among youth court programs. Many times these standards                     others involved. Confidentiality also helps reduce the chance of
are set forth in a Volunteer Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics. This article              respondents retaliating against youth volunteers who spread rumors
explores some of the ethical standards placed on youth court volunteers,                  or gossip about their case.
how they are set, and the intent of the standards.
                                                                                       • Knowing when to remove themselves from a case. There are times when it
Setting the Standards                                                                     may not be appropriate for a youth to serve as a juror or judge on a
      In general, a program’s code of ethics or code of conduct helps ensure              particular case. For example, it may be necessary for a youth to step
that all youth court volunteers know from their first introduction to the                 down from jury duty if the respondent is his or her best friend, worst
program what is expected from them as youth court volunteers. Each                        enemy, or in some way related to him or her. Other times, a youth may
youth court will need to set its own ethical standards; however, it is helpful            find himself or herself in a particular type of case or situation in which
for staff to develop these standards with the input of an advisory group that             his or her own bias or opinions may hinder his or her ability to be fair
includes youth volunteers. Having youth participate in these discussions                  and impartial. If a jury member does not believe that he or she can be
and decisions will increase ‘buy-in’ for the standards among other youth                  unbiased or fair in a case, he or she must step down.
volunteers. Having youth and adults jointly determine the program’s ethical
standards also can be helpful when there are disagreements among adults              Educating Volunteers on the Standards
and youth about what the standards should be.                                              For ethical standards or a code of conduct to be effective, all youth
      Essentially, a code of ethics or conduct helps define what are and are         court volunteers need to be educated on the program’s expectations, and
not acceptable types of behavior for youth court volunteers. While exact             this information needs to be constantly reinforced. Youth volunteers should
standards will vary among programs, some of the more common types of                 receive a written copy of the code as well as training on its provisions. Some
provisions covered in youth courts’ code of ethics/conduct include:                  programs have the youth sign the code, stating that they have read,
   • Being respectful of everyone in the court. This extends to the other            understood, and agree to adhere to its provisions.
      trained youth and adult volunteers, staff, the youth court jury members,             It is not as difficult to provide training on tangible issues such as
      the respondents and their families, and others who may be present.             courtroom procedures that may be easy to explain and demonstrate; however,
      Some general expectations involve paying attention in court, asking            a discussion about ethics often takes more time because it deals with issues
      relevant questions, not making faces or inappropriate gestures to the          such as integrity and fairness, and different individuals may have differing
      respondent or audience, and acting appropriately in the deliberation           opinions about what is fair.
      room. It is important that youth know that how others perceive them                  When conducting a training session on ethical standards, the more
      depends largely on how they conduct themselves during the entire               interactive the lesson can be, the more effective it will be. Role plays
      youth court session. It is also important for youth court volunteers to        followed by class discussions on situations that they are likely to encounter
      recognize that their behavior makes a statement to the community at            can be particularly effective training tools for teaching youth volunteers this
      large. What the community thinks of the volunteers often will dictate          type of information. See figure 1 for some sample ethical scenarios that can
      how much respect and support the youth court will be given.                    be class discussion topics and figure 2 for some sample role play scenarios.
                                                                                           Another strategy used in some youth court training sessions is to have
  • Being a positive role model. When a student agrees to participate in a           youth discuss a topic and then ask them to relate how they will apply the
     youth court program, he or she is agreeing to be a positive role model          information in youth court. For example, youth could be asked to describe
     for other youth, not only during youth court but also at home, in               what it means to them to be a positive role model and identify who has
     school, and in the community. This can include expectations as simple           been a role model to them and why. Then they can be asked to develop a
     as showing up to youth court on time to more complex and sometimes              plan for how they will be a positive role model for others.
     controversial ones such as not engaging in any unlawful behavior.
                                                                                     Consequences for Not Adhering to Ethical Standards
  • Maintaining confidentiality. A critical component of the ethical                      Youth volunteers need to be informed about what will occur if they
     standards in youth courts is the “Oath of Confidentiality.” When                do not adhere to the rules. When a youth court creates a code of ethics/
     youth verbally take or sign this oath, they are promising not to divulge        conduct, it is important to spend time discussing and outlining what the
     any information that comes to their knowledge in youth court at any             consequences will be if or when it is violated. Sometimes there may be
     time, for any reason. Even in states such as Oregon, where juvenile             different consequences for different provisions of the code; other times

                                                                                                                                                 continued on page 6

Youth Court Goes to Camp
      Last summer, 23 elementary and middle school youth court respondents in New Bedford, Massachusetts, spent the month of August attending a
summer camp designed just for them. The first of its kind in Massachusetts, this summer camp program, sponsored through a collaborative effort between
the Safe Harbors Program of the New Bedford Schools, the New Bedford Prevention Partnership Programs, the New Bedford Police Department school
resource officers, and New Bedford Child and Family Services, was planned for August so that it would end just as the new school year was beginning, to
help ensure a smooth transition into the school environment.
      All of the youth who attended the camp were youth court respondents between the ages of eight and 12 who were referred to youth court for minor
school infractions such as disrespectful or inappropriate behavior. The youth who successfully participated in the program did not have criminal records
because they participated in youth court, and instead gained a new perspective on life and learning.
      Summer camp planners got together and determined that there were four essential needs that they must address for these young offenders attending
camp. The first need was for an educational component to increase literacy and math skills. The second need was a clinical component, to teach anger
management and how to appropriately process feelings. The third component was called “expanding horizons,” which exposed youth to new and different
activities. The fourth was physical fitness, which was accomplished through drill work and exercises similar to those done during physical education classes
at school. The students went on several field trips during the camp, including a historical tour of Boston and a whale watch.
      Twenty individuals from the partnering organizations staffed the program, including five school resource officers, five child and family service workers,
five school social workers, and five youth court volunteers. Staffing was rotated amongst the different groups.
      Attendance at the summer camp was excellent, with 98% of the youth completing successfully. Lisa Birknes-Tavares, the Coordinator for the New
Bedford Youth Court, said that the camp was an enriching experience for all involved and that it was “one of the most beneficial programs we’ve ever had
the opportunity to work with.” Youth learned self-respect and life skills from caring adults in their community, and the time was well spent.
      Plans are in motion to schedule another summer camp for next August, dependent on continued funding for the program. The 2003 summer camp
was funded through an independent memorandum of understanding with the Schools of Safe Harbor Grant. Birknes-Tavares is hopeful that the program
will continue in subsequent years.

Kudos go to…
NY Youth Court Member Named President of                Former Niagara Falls Youth Court Members                 Alaska Developing Youth Court Alumni
State DECA Chapter                                      among First to Receive President’s Student               Association
      Syracuse City School District Student Court       Service Award in 1993                                          A former member of the Anchorage Youth
(NY) member Brandon Burns, was elected New                     Kathryn Crocker and Jeffrey Paterson, former      Court, Bryan Talbot-Clark, has initiated the
York State President of the Distributive Education      volunteers with the Niagara Falls Youth Court in         establishment of the Alaska Youth Court Alumni
Club of America (DECA) for the 2003-2004                Niagara Falls, New York, were among the first            Association. Working in partnership with the
school year. The DECA is a national association         youth to receive the prestigious President’s Student     United Youth Courts of Alaska, the purposes of
of marketing education students. DECA chapters          Service Award in recognition of their outstanding        the Alaska Youth Court Alumni Association are to
attract students who are interested in preparing        service in the Niagara Falls community. “I think         increase communication among former members
for entrepreneurial, marketing, or management           it’s impressive that of the at least 115,000 youth       of Alaska youth courts and to assist with advocacy
careers. The DECA’s goal is for its student members     across America who have been recognized for this         efforts.
to develop a “career success kit” to carry into their   award since 1993, the very first recipients were               Currently Bryan is compiling a list of former
business and personal lives after graduation; one       affiliated with a youth court,” said Art Eberhart,       youth court members interested in joining the
that includes occupational competencies needed          Coordinator of the Niagara Falls Youth Court.            Alaska Youth Court Alumni Association. If you
for careers in marketing, management and                       The President’s Student Service Award is          or someone you know is a former member of any
entrepreneurship; leadership abilities; social and      awarded to full-time students ages five or older         of Alaska’s youth courts and would like to join the
business etiquette; understanding and appreciation      who contribute at least 100 hours of service to the      association, please contact Bryan Talbot-Clark at
of civic responsibility; and ethical behavior in        community. Students may be certified by their   for more information.
personal and business relationships.                    school, their college, or a community organization
      For more information about the Distributive       and will receive a specially designed gold pin with
Education Club of America, please visit their           the presidential seal, a presidential certificate, and
website at                                a letter from the President. Youth ages five to 14
                                                        who perform 50 hours of service may receive a
                                                        silver pin with the presidential seal, as well as a
                                                        presidential certificate and a letter from the
                                                        President. For more information, visit

2nd National Youth Summit a Success                                                        National Youth Court Month
     “Positive Youth Development” is the term that drives how youth service                     September was the highlight of the 2003 12-Month
professionals look at their work today: moving youth services beyond a traditional         Campaign as youth courts celebrated National Youth Court
deficit model that focuses on specific problems, such as substance abuse, and on to a      Month. During National Youth Court Month, youth courts
model that addresses the entire lifestyle of young people. Perhaps the country’s largest   planned events that celebrated the efforts of their youth court
gathering dedicated to Positive Youth Development occurred in Washington, D.C.             volunteers and showcased to communities what youth courts do
on November 6 - 8, 2003, as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
                                                                                           and how they are on the front line helping one of our nation’s
convened “Building on the Strengths of America’s Youth: The 2nd National Youth
Summit.”                                                                                   most valuable resources – youth.
     “Last year, the inaugural National Youth Summit was designed to raise awareness            Check out the NYCC website at to
about and help to energize the positive youth development movement,” commented             find out how youth court programs across the nation celebrated
Harry Wilson, Associated Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth            National Youth Court Month. Don’t forget to let the NYCC
and Families and head of the Family Youth Services Bureau. “At this year’s Summit,         know how your youth court participated in National Youth Court
the program was specifically crafted to increase the knowledge and build the skills of     Month or any of the other monthly focus areas, by completing a
professionals, volunteers, and youth active in the field. We wanted participants to        participation form on the web or in the back of the 12-Month
leave Washington with tools they could apply in their own communities.”                    Campaign Calendar.
     Young people, federal staff, state and municipal employees working with youth,
youth service professionals and policymakers, and representatives from faith- and          Volunteer Hall of Honor
community-based organizations attended more than 30 distinct workshops, ranging
                                                                                                During National Youth Court Month the NYCC recognized
from “Youth and Parent Connectedness” to “Youth Entrepreneurship” to “Helping
Young People Avoid Unhealthy Risk Behaviors.” Colonie Youth Court (NY) members             exceptional youth and adult volunteers by listing them on the
Christopher Peterson and Elizabeth Pericak presented a workshop on the National            NYCC website. Their individual youth court programs selected
Youth Court Initiative at the Summit.                                                      the volunteers because they were particularly valuable or made
      Keynote speakers, live youth entertainment, and a youth town hall meeting            an outstanding mark in their program throughout the past year.
that provided young people the opportunity to dialogue with national political             The National Youth Court Center applauds the efforts of these
leaders completed the agenda. Plus a unique closing session allowed every participant      special youth and adult volunteers. Please take a moment to visit
to help craft the final report that will go to the Secretary for Health and Human          the NYCC website at to view the Volunteer
Services and the White House. Keynote speakers included 14-year-old, two-time              Hall of Honor and to find out more about the wonderful
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Gregory Smith; Assistant Secretary for Children and              contributions these volunteers have made to their youth courts.
Families Wade F. Horn, Ph.D.; and Harry Wilson, Commissioner, Family and Youth             Congratulations!
Services Bureau.
                                                                                           Certificates of Merit
                                                                                                 All programs that participated in a minimum of four of the
Happy 10th Anniversary Colonie Youth Court!                                                featured campaigns 2003 will receive a Certificate of Merit from
      The Colonie Youth Court in Colonie, New York celebrated its 10th anniversary         the National Youth Court Center (NYCC) and the Office of
on September 16, 2003 with a special recognition dinner. New York Governor
                                                                                           Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
George Pataki surprised the more than 125 guests by making an appearance to
commend the program for serving as a model for New York State and the nation.                    If your program has participated in any educational
Governor Pataki applauded the student members and volunteers of the youth court            workshops or community service projects during the past year
whose contributions have made Colonie Youth Court such an overwhelming success             that relate to the monthly focus areas of the 12-Month Campaign,
over the past decade, and he charged them to maintain the program as an example to         please complete the participation form in the 12-Month
which others may aspire. Other speakers included former Colonie Youth Court                Campaign Calendar or online. All participation forms for the
members Jonathan Halstuch and Brian Selchick, and Glenn Suddaby, United States             2003 12-Month Campaign must be submitted to the NYCC
Attorney for Northern District of New York. The anniversary celebration also included      by January 15, 2004 to be considered for a Certificate of Merit.
a special tribute to Mr. John A. Scaringe, Sr. (1943-2003), whose contributions to the
Colonie Youth Court, to his community, and to the National Youth Court Center
will be sorely missed.
      Since its inception in 1993, the Colonie Youth Court has adjudicated more
than 700 cases of young people with a 99 percent completion rate. These young
people have completed more than 27,000 hours of community service within the
town of Colonie, benefiting themselves as well as the community.

continued from page 3
there may be a process outlined for any code violation (e.g., having a youth           is fair to expect or not expect youth volunteers to do. However establishing
volunteer appear before the youth court on any code violation). Youth                  ethical standards is important to protect program accountability and integrity.
should be informed of the consequences, and the rules should be enforced.              Each time youth volunteers are involved in a hearing, they are making
                                                                                       judgments and tough decisions about how to hold a respondent accountable
Conclusion                                                                             for his or her behavior. It stands to reason that volunteers would also have
     There are numerous issues to consider when establishing ethical                   to be accountable for their own behavior in an effort to help them be the
standards in youth courts, and it may not always be easy to determine what             best they can be inside and outside of the youth court setting.
                                                                                       ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○

                                                                                            Mary Fleischmann is a Juvenile Community Justice Officer in Deschutes
                                                                                       County, Oregon. She is also the Coordinator of the La Pine Teen Court. Nancy
                                                                                       Anne Livingston is an Assistant Professor and University of Wisconsin Extension
                                                                                       Youth Development Agent. She is also the Vilas County Teen Court Coordinator
   Discussion Topics -- Sample Ethics                                                  and president of the Wisconsin Teen Court Association, Inc.
   Ethics Scenario #1
   You arrive for teen court and are assigned to represent James as his defense
   attorney. Your friend, Mary, is serving on the teen court jury that evening.
   After you’ve interviewed and prepared James for the hearing, you run into
   Mary at the water fountain. She tells you that this is the third time this              Role Play Scenarios Related to Breaking
   month that she has been a teen court juror and she has yet to hear a case               the Oath of Confidentiality
   where she thought the defendant was remorseful for what he or she did. She
   asks you how your interview with your client went and if you think that                 1. A teen court member gets back from serving and is asked about
   he is remorseful.                                                                       the trial by a School Liaison who knew the offender and the case.
                                                                                           The teen court member informs the liaison about the details of the
   What do you say to Mary?                                                                case.
   Ethics Scenario #2
                                                                                           2. A teen court member comes home from school and is asked about
   You go to the football game Friday night and after the game, one of your
                                                                                           teen court by his/her parents. They are curious about their son/
   classmates invites you to a party at his house. His parents are out of town
                                                                                           daughter’s involvement in teen court and want to know what
   that weekend. When you arrive at the party, lots of kids are drinking. You
                                                                                           happened when they served. The panel member describes in detail
   decide that you are not going to drink, since you drove to the party. About
                                                                                           what the case was like and who the offender was.
   an hour later, one of your fellow volunteers, Jane, arrives at the party. You
   don’t know Jane really well, since she has only been volunteering for the
                                                                                           3. A teen court member is asked by a friend how youth court went
   youth court for a few weeks. From a distance, you see Jane accept a beer
                                                                                           that day. The friend had heard someone he knows was in trouble
   from one of the other people at the party. You watch her drink the beer and
                                                                                           and asks if that person was at court. The panel member tells the
   then leave the party with one of her friends.
                                                                                           friend who was there and what the sanctions were.
   What do you do?
                                                                                           4. Another teen court member asks you how teen court was that day.
   Ethics Scenario #3                                                                      He asks how many cases you served on and how it went. You describe
   You are assigned to defend Paul at teen court. Paul was caught shoplifting              in detail what each case was and tell some of the sanctions delivered.
   and when you interview him, he confides in you that nothing that
   happens here tonight will keep him from shoplifting again. He thinks
   teen court is a big joke. You think Paul is a jerk.

   How would you handle Paul’s case?

   Ethics Scenario #4
   You are assigned as a juror on Jason’s case in teen court. You play on a team
                                                                                           Distance Learning for
   in the city’s baseball league, and Jason is a pitcher for a rival team. At a
   game a month ago, Jason intentionally hit you with a baseball to walk                   Youth Courts
   you to first base, because he knew that you had hit two homeruns in the                      In 2003, the NYCC participated in a teleconference and a
   game the week before. You were really angry when he hit you, and you and                videoconference/Internet broadcast on topics of interest to youth
   your teammates have had discussions about what terrible things you’d like               courts. “Making Evaluation for Youth Court Simpler Using
   to do to him the next time you play their team. No one that volunteers in               Performance-Based Measures” and “Youth Courts: A Legal Guide to
   teen court knows that you know Jason or that you had an encounter with                  Getting Involved” can both be accessed by visiting the NYCC website
   him in a baseball game before. Jason doesn’t remember you either.                       at, or you may order a CD ROM or VHS tape
                                                                                           by contacting the NYCC.
   Do you serve as a juror on Jason’s case?

continued from page 1
      Information about the program’s confidentiality and privacy practices              obstacles, but programs should not compromise the confidentiality and
should be included in the initial or pre-service training that volunteers                privacy of their respondents, respondents’ families, victims, and witnesses
receive. Role plays and other interactive exercises that require volunteers to           when arranging for the program’s physical space needs. Safety, security, and
practice identifying and making appropriate decisions related to                         accessibility are additional issues that youth courts will need to address with
confidentiality and privacy are effective tools to reinforce the learning process.       respect to program and hearing locations.
Having youth sign and/or take oral confidentiality oaths during every
youth court hearing also helps keep the issue in the forefront of youths’                Determine Best Practice for Sharing Program’s
minds.                                                                                   Success Stories
      Furthermore staff should model behavior consistent with these policies                   A common practice among youth courts is sharing program success
for volunteers. For example, if youth see a staff person talking openly about            stories. Staff and volunteers who share information in public presentations
a respondent’s case to other volunteers in a public space where others may               about actual cases and experiences with respondents and their families need
overhear, this sends an inadvertent message that confidentiality is not                  to be careful about the information they divulge. They should make sure
important.                                                                               they don’t unwittingly divulge information that would be inconsistent
                                                                                         with their program’s confidentiality and privacy policies.
Consider Physical Space When Holding Meetings with                                             Another common practice that youth courts engage in is having past
Respondents, Victims and Other Witnesses                                                 respondents share their experiences at trainings or other public relations
      Anytime a respondent, his/her family members, victims, or other                    events. Their stories can be very powerful, and through them participants
witnesses meet with youth court volunteers or staff to discuss any aspect of             can hear the actual benefits the programs offer young people and their
their case, the meeting should be held in manner that protects confidentiality           families. However when asking past respondents to do this, programs
and privacy. Persons involved should feel confident that the information                 should make sure they inform the person of who will be in the audience
they are sharing will be treated with respect and not be overheard by others.            they are speaking to and that the youth’s parents or guardians approve of
Some of the types of meetings that should be held in separate and private                their speaking to the group. Having the youth and his/her parent or
areas include:                                                                           guardian sign a waiver that indicates who they will speaking to and how the
   • Intake meetings in which staff discuss the program’s requirements and               information will be used is also advised.
      gather background information on respondents and their family
      members.                                                                           Conclusion
   • Meetings in which youth volunteers meet with respondents, parents                         Privacy and confidentiality are issues with which every youth court
      or guardians, victims, and witnesses to prepare for their cases. Holding           must grapple. Every youth court must determine what is appropriate
      these types of meetings in hallways, for example, where other youth,               conduct within the law for their program and develop written policies and
      witnesses, victims, and observers are walking around or lingering is not           procedures that reflect this. Additionally, staff and volunteers must be
      appropriate. The noise and distractions can hamper the ability of the              educated on policies and procedures concerning privacy and confidentiality
      volunteer to adequately prepare, may make the respondent and his/                  issues, as well as on what the consequences will be should these policies and
      her family or witness uncomfortable, and increase the chance that                  procedures be disregarded. Most importantly youth respondents and their
      private conversations and information will be overheard.                           families have the right to expect that their conversations with youth court
                                                                                         staff and volunteers will be respected and kept confidential and that they
   • Meetings in which staff or volunteers discuss the youth court hearing               will be provided a private setting in which to conduct their youth court
      outcome with respondents and their families.                                       business.
   • Meetings in which respondents report back to staff or volunteers on
      their progress toward fulfilling their dispositional requirements.
   • Deliberation proceedings. It can be highly embarrassing and
      disconcerting for respondents and their families if they can hear jurors
      or judge panels talking about their case, laughing, or making other
      noise. The deliberation process is a critical component of the hearing                Consequences for Breaking Confidentiality
      process and should be treated with the utmost of decorum.                            When a youth volunteer breaks confidentiality, some options
                                                                                           youth courts have used as consequences include:
      Sometimes arranging for physical space that protects confidentiality
                                                                                           • Mediation between the volunteer and the person whose
and privacy can be a challenge for youth courts. They may be limited in the
type of office or courtroom space they have available, so it may be necessary                confidentiality he/she breached.
for youth courts to be creative in how they arrange and utilize the space                  • No longer being able to serve as a youth court volunteer.
provided. However if the space provided is not conducive to protecting                     • Having the volunteer appear before a disciplinary team,
privacy and confidentiality, then programs should consider finding an                        headed by a member of the program’s board of directors.
alternative location for their office or youth court hearings. For example,                  The disciplinary team investigates the allegations and
while an actual courtroom is the preferred location for youth court hearings                 makes a recommendation to the youth court program
because of the serious atmosphere that it invokes, if the space the youth                    director.
court program uses in the courtroom does not allow them to have separate                   • Having the youth go before the youth court themselves to
rooms for meetings between volunteers and clients or deliberations, then it                  receive their consequence.
may be necessary to hold hearings in a different location (e.g., school, city
                                                                                           • Suspension from the youth court program for a specified
council chambers). Tradeoffs often have to be made when programs are on
a tight budget, located in a small town, or confronted with other logistical                 period of time.

National Youth Court Center                                                                                  Nonprofit Organization
c/o American Probation and Parole Association                                                                    U.S. Postage
P.O. Box 11910                                                                                                       PAID
Lexington, KY 40578-1910                                                                                        Lexington, KY
                                                                                                               Permit No. 1042

  CALENDAR OF EVENTS                                                      National Youth Court Center
  To include your conference or event in our newsletter, please                The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  send information to NYCC, P.O. Box 11910, Lexington, KY                 (OJJDP) established the National Youth Court Center (NYCC) in
  40578-1910 or email us at                                 1999 at the American Probation and Parole Association in Lexington,
  February 8-11, 2004: APPA Winter Training Institute, Reno, Nevada.      Kentucky. The NYCC serves as an information clearinghouse and
  Contact Kris Chappell at (859) 244-8204 for more information.           provides training, technical assistance, and resource materials to assist
                                                                          jurisdictions in developing and operating effective youth court
  February 14-17, 2004: 15th National Youth Crime Prevention              programs.
  Conference and International Forum, Washington, D.C., sponsored by
  the National Crime Prevention Council and Youth Crime Watch of
  America. Contact (202) 261-4165; email:        NYCC Staff
  for more information.                                                   Tracy Godwin Mullins, Director
  February 20-21, 2004: Pottstown Area Police Athletic League Youth       Karen Dunlap, Research Associate
  Court Training Program, Saratoga, Pennsylvania. Contact Laura           Mistene M. Vickers, Website and Newsletter Production Coordinator
  McOdrum at (610) 329-9274 for more information. This training is
                                                                          Lisa Ginter, Administrative Assistant
  sponsored by the American Bar Association Division for Public
  Education and the National Youth Court Center.
                                                                          For more information, contact:
  February 22-24, 2004: National Dropout Prevention Center’s 16th         National Youth Court Center
  Annual At-Risk Youth National Forum, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.      c/o American Probation
  Contact Linda Shirley at (864) 656-2675 for more information.
                                                                          and Parole Association
  March 28-30, 2004: NHTSA Lifesavers Conference on Highway               PO Box 11910
  Safety Priorities, San Diego, California. Go to                         Lexington, KY 40578-1910 for more information.                      Phone: 859-244-8193
                                                                          Fax: 859-244-8001
  July 25-28, 2004: American Probation and Parole Association’s 29th
  Annual Training Institute, Orlando, Florida. Contact Kris Chappell at
  (859) 244-8204 for more information.                                    Website:

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