If your teenager is showing interest in criminal justice, it is never too early for him to learn how the system works. You do not have to wait for your teen to reach college for him to start participating in criminal-justice-related activities. Many high schools offer programs that can help teens to learn about the criminal justice system and have fun at the same time.
Mock Trial is an afterschool activity for high school students. Club members get to learn about the legal system and put on fake trials. Participants can compete against other local schools and even move on to regional and national competitions. Competing in Mock Trial can show teens the importance of our legal system as well as prepare them for serving real-life jury duty later on. It can also inspire your teen to pursue a career as lawyer, police officer or judge. Students can experience being a witness or juror in mock court cases which are based on teen concerns and other relevant issues that affect society.
Many high schools are offering more in-class activities pertaining to criminal justice as a lesson in a history or current events class. Some schools even have entire elective courses dedicated to the subject. A popular in-class game show activity that some teachers are using is called "You and the Law." Students break up into teams and are asked questions about the legal system. Another activity being used by teachers is an exercise called "No Animals on School Grounds." During this lesson, teens will be broken up into groups and be asked to write their own law in reference to animals not being allowed at their high school. At first it may seem like an easy assignment, but students will realize how challenging it is to come up with a fair law when they have to take out-of-the-box scenarios such as seeing-eye dogs, police dogs and injured animals into consideration.
Other Afterschool Activities
Mock Trial may not be available at every school due to budget constraints or lack of volunteers, but there are other afterschool activities you can lobby for in your child's high school that can engage students in the study of the criminal justice system. Debate teams are a fun way for teens to discuss legal issues and voice their opinions. Your teen can even start a criminal justice club where students review famous court cases and watch videos of famous moments in legal history.
Take it Into Your Own Hands
If you are unsatisfied with the criminal justice offerings at your teen's high school, take matters into your own hands and create criminal justice related activities for your child. Take your teen and a friend on a tour of a courthouse. If your teen is in Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts or another non-school related activity, see if you can find a police officer or lawyer to volunteer their time to give an educational presentation to the group. If you live near a big city, go on a tour of famous places that have been involved in court cases throughout history.
Valerie Tandoi began writing professionally in 2004. She has been published in various print and online media outlets including: "New Jersey Business Magazine," "South Jersey Mom Magazine," "ASA-Dix Newspaper," "Happy Woman Magazine" and others. She also creates print and Web content for businesses. Tandoi holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Caldwell College and currently lives in New Jersey.