Youth Court This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     I'll be honest, I'm a pretty typicalteenager. I worry about how I look and what I'm going to do on a Friday night.But I discovered that this typical life is not enough. So I joined Youth Court,and in the process learned something about myself and others in mycommunity.

Youth Court is a peer-based alternative to Family Court. Underthe supervision of a police detective, we arraign children under the age of 16for misdemeanors. Teenagers who participate in the program act as officers of thecourt - judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, bailiff and clerk - who sentencetheir peers to probation, community service and/or an essay. This is my thirdyear participating. My supervisor, Detective Malloy, is someone I aspire toemulate. Understanding the extent of crimes committed each day, she volunteersher time to Youth Court. For Detective Malloy, its purpose is not to punishchildren for committing crimes, but to teach them a lesson for the future. Herpassionate involvement makes a difference in our community, and over 80 percentof the children who are sent to Youth Court do not become repeatoffenders.

I was always the good kid - never tried a cigarette or thoughtabout drugs, and never committed a crime. I always thought that those who didwere bad kids whom I would not associate with. Through my involvement with YouthCourt I discovered that "bad" kids are a lot like me in many ways -they all think about how they look and what to do on a Friday night, too. The"bad" kids I was so afraid of are really not so bad. They just dealwith the pressures of life in different ways. In the past year, I have befriendedwhat at my school are called "Ghetto Girls," whom I avoided freshmanand sophomore years. I discovered that they are the most fun and interestingpeople I have ever met.

I come from a broken home. My parents have beendivorced for nine years, but still fight as if they were married. Communityservice is a way for me to cope. While at Youth Court, it is as if I am adifferent person. There, I am respected, and I like it.

In the past twoyears, I have discovered where my heart is. When I walk into Youth Court, I findmyself. Giving back to the community has made me whole. Community service is inmy future, for if I continue helping others, I may truly make a difference.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Alex Smith said...
Oct. 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm
Did you also learn how to spell simple words correctly, cleary you have mastered that!
 
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