"Imagine sitting down for dinner as your daughter or son recounts with relish every detail they have recently learned about how to prevent auto crime. Hundreds of parents across BC have found themselves doing just this since the start of the Courtlink Auto Crime Prevention Program.
With funding from ICBC, the Law Courts Education Society of BC has developed this innovative, experiential court-linked program, where students, aged 12-18, learn about the consequences of auto crime and how to prevent it. Phase II of this 3-year project is in full swing – almost 2000 students, teachers and parent-supervisors have completed the program so far, with rave reviews.
For participants, the program is divided into three parts: students complete a series of in-class activities that introduce them to the topic of auto crime, they then spend a day in a nearby courthouse to see first-hand the workings of our criminal justice system and, back at school again, students reflect on crime prevention and the program. Schools from a dozen different school districts have visited courthouses in Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Kamloops, Kelowna, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Prince George, Surrey and Vancouver.
Court staff such as sheriffs, Crown counsel and judges in all of these courts regularly volunteer their time to speak with the student groups and to answer their many questions.
An evaluation by independent consultants proved that, as a result of the program, there is a significant increase in the participants’ level of knowledge and a clear effect on student attitudes toward auto crime. Requests for the teaching materials from other organisations, agencies and even other provinces prove that this program is both necessary and a great success.
The Law Courts Education Society is a leader in public legal education for children, youth and adults in BC. Their goal is to reduce legal barriers and increase public understanding of the court system. Over the past 20 years, more than 500,000 people have been involved in their varied and dynamic legal education programs.
This article was published in the August 2000 issue of BarTalk. © 2000 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.