Monday, June 2, 2014

Swarthmore College Graduate Received Award for Supporting Youth Courts in Chester Upland School District

Naudia Williams, a 2014 graduate of Swarthmore College, received the fourth annual Swarthmore College Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice Award on Sunday, June 1, 2014.  She was honored by the Legal Services to the Public Committee and the Pro Bono Office of the Pennsylvania Bar Association for her work supporting youth courts run by high school students in the Chester Upland School District.  

David Trevaskis, Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Coordinator, and Gregg Volz, Regional Youth Court Support Center Director at EducationWorks, presented the award to Williams along with Swarthmore College Professor Ben Berger and Maurice Eldridge, Swarthmore College Vice President for College and Community Relations and Executive Assistant to the President.  The Cahn award is given to a Swarthmore College student or alumnus whose work advances youth court and whose character typifies the values demonstrated by Jean and Edgar Cahn. 

Williams’ is the fourth Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice recipient. The award celebrates her commitment, and that of the award’s namesakes, to social justice.  

Youth courts provide an alternative disposition for young people, either in school settings or beyond, who have committed an act that violates the norms of a school or the community.   Some youth courts are tied to school discipline matters, others prevent juvenile offenders from further penetrating the justice system. There are effective models that combine school and community justice youth courts, with the school providing the training and early experience before veterans of these courts graduate to work in the juvenile justice system youth courts.  Students as young as elementary school age have participated in school based courts.  Recent research by Philadelphia’s Research For Action demonstrated multiple benefits to both student offenders and the students who run the youth courts.  Student empowerment, civic engagement and familiarity with the law are all achieved through youth courts.

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