Daily Point of Light # 2669 Apr 28, 2004

The South Sevier Youth Court was created in February 2001. Approximately 850 hours of service, including court sessions and training, are annually donated through this program. There are 14 Youth Court Members. Each of them have eight hours of required training each year, spend one to two hours each month in court and three to four days each year are spent at a regional conference.

Each member is dedicated to the Youth Court. They spend countless hours, in addition to those above, to make the court work. The Youth Court provides positive peer pressure for punishment to youth offenders. Court members have to judge and find appropriate punishments for their peers and friends, which is difficult. Although the members are teens, they are professional in their court dealings and use good judgment. They also have to face their peers and agree to any judgment they receive by going to Youth Court, the offender has no permanent juvenile record.

Youth Court members see their peers and friends come into the court. Yet they have to put personal feelings aside and give an unbiased opinion when they give judgments. They may see a difficult case where the offender does not want to cooperate with what the committee decides on. When that happens, they have to be stern and show authority; this is difficult in some cases. The skills the youth members are learning help them now and will continue to help in making decisions for years to come.

The Youth Court members do not receive compensation for what they do. They have made a great impact on the community through their dedication to helping their peers. In addition, some of the clients of the court have been given a “second chance” because of the existence of the Youth Court. Without the service of the individuals within the Youth Court system, it would be impossible to provide a positive alternative to Juvenile Court.