King County Kids’ Court
Childhood Victimization: Kids’ Court Assists the Most Vulnerable
Kids’ Court is an innovative court awareness program developed to:
Help child victims of sexual abuse and other forms of victimization and trauma and their families participate effectively in the criminal justice process, AND
Help these children and families better cope with the experience of going to court.
The Kids’ Court Session
Kids’ Court is an experiential and activity-based program held at least six times a year on Saturdays in a courtroom at the King County Courthouse in Seattle or the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington. Through a standardized curriculum, participants engage in discussions with a judge and prosecutor. Utilizing role-plays, question and answer sessions and fun games, the program increases children’s knowledge of courtroom personnel and procedures. The afternoon session focuses on enhancing self-confidence and introduces stress reduction techniques.
At Kids’ Court, kids learn that the most important rule of the court is telling the truth.
Kids’ Court is designed for children ages 4-12. As the day progresses children in the group learn:
Why a witness is important and how to be confident in that role
How kids can participate successfully in a the legal system through enhancing knowledge of courtroom procedures
How to reduce feelings of fear and anxiety though relaxation techniques that are fun, easy and helpful
Practical methods to manage courtroom worries such as, “What if I start to cry?” or “What if I don’t understand a question?”
To support and reinforce these sessions when Kids’ Court is over, each participant receives a book entitled, “You Are Very Brave” and a relaxation tape.
While children attend the Kids’ Court Program, parents and caretakers attend a concurrent program designed to address their needs and answer their questions about the justice system.
How to support their child during their involvement with the justice system
Stress management techniques to help reduce anxiety and other negative emotions
To share common concerns about being involved with their child in the legal process
Greater insight into the criminal justice system
Our community cares and will respond with sensitivity to the needs of victims and families
To support and reinforce the parent program, each participant receives a Parent Informational Packet and a relaxation tape.
King County Kids’ Court Mission Statement
Children who have experienced sexual victimization or have suffered from other forms of crime or traumatic events may suddenly and involuntarily become involved in the criminal justice system. Many things about this system are complicated and can evoke feelings of anxiety. The Kids’ Court philosophy is that no child should encounter having to testify in court without assistance in making that experience less intimidating. Kids’ Court educates and supports children and their parents and caretakers as they participate in the criminal justice process.
Kids’ Court Awards and Recognitions
Kids’ Court is nationally recognized as a “best practices” program and has received many awards and recognitions including:
Lee Ann Miller Award – presented by the Children’s Justice Interdisciplinary Task Force in cooperation with the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Children’s Administration. Each year the award goes to a program that has made the greatest impact and / or contribution to furthering the Mission of the Children’s Justice Act.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime recognizes Kids’ Court as a “best practices” model program that is exemplary in innovation, development of partnerships, outreach methods and multidisciplinary approaches that address the needs of children.
Kids’ Court has served thousands of child victim/witnesses of sexual abuse and other crimes and their families since the program began in 1989. One parent of a very young child-abuse victim conveyed the opinion of most Kids’ Court participants when she said, “Kids’ Court was the most positive experience we’ve had (in dealing with the legal system).
For further information about Kids’ or Teen Court, please call: 206-477-1204 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.