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Juvenile Justice Education Project

Kids who drink alcohol underage are clearly breaking the law. Often, parents, teachers, or other adults who catch a child drinking alcohol underage handle the situation themselves. But there are instances when these offenses escalate and end up in a court of law. What happens from there depends on the judges and treatment providers who are part of the judicial system.

To assist these individuals as they handle these difficult cases, has created two free resources that encourage judges to consider an underage alcohol offense as a potential turning point for the juveniles that come into their courtroom. They also highlight the necessity of a collaborative approach in the adjudication of each individual offender’s case.

In 2015, launched Effective Judicial Interventions for Underage Drinking Offenders. Developed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and in consultation with a national panel of experts, this cutting‐edge online course is designed to educate judges about underage drinking such that they can make informed decisions in the courtroom. In 2016, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) developed a bench card that makes it possible for the central tenants of the course to be easily accessed when it matters most: during a hearing.

The course and bench card provide judges with information about how to make accurate assessments, appropriate sentencing decisions, and tailored treatment plans for underage drinkers whether they are firsttime offenders or more serious, habitual underage alcohol abusers.

Why You Need to Take This Course

The online course consists of four online modules and accompanying resources including case studies, model case plans, and videos. The learning objectives include:

  • increase understanding of the importance of assessment and treatment of juvenile offenders;
  • identify appropriate community resources for referrals;
  • develop a treatment plan that is tailored to individual risks and needs; and,
  • understand the importance of the judiciary taking a leadership role in addressing the issue of underage drinking prevention and intervention within the criminal justice system.

The easy‐to‐navigate modules in the course allow practitioners to complete the course as time permits and can be re‐visited as desired. The course can be accessed for free here.

The bench card, developed by judges who were selected by NCJFCJ to create the content based on their years of courtroom experience, is easily downloaded for free below. Hardcopies can be requested through NCJFCJ here. The intention of the bench card is to educate and guide juvenile court judges and juvenile justice professionals on effectively handling underage drinking offenders to improve outcomes for youth, families and communities.

Underage Drinking Offense Graph

Click on image to enlarge bench card* recognizes the importance of providing criminal justice practitioners with user‐friendly, practical educational resources and delivering them in a format that is conducive to a busy professional schedule. For more information about this new resource, please contact Madeleine Spjut, Government Relations and Traffic Safety Associate at [email protected].