“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
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 www.youthcourt.net. website at http://www.youthcourt.net/Publications/
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
Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 www.youthcourt.net or email us at email@example.com.
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 www.ycyouth.net 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 www.ycyouth.net to
access these and other resources!
The Importance of Ethical Standards in
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 www.deca.org. 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 www.youthcourt.net 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 www.youthcour.net 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!
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 www.youthcourt.net, 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
• 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 email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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
www.lifesaversconference.org for more information. Phone: 859-244-8193
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: www.youthcourt.net