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Understanding Adolescents: A Juvenile Court Training Curriculum

Published Jun 1, 2000, Youth Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, American Bar Association

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Understanding Adolescents: A Juvenile Court Training Curriculum, training materials for juvenile justice professionals, was funded by the MacArthur Foundation as a joint project of the Youth Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, and the American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center. The result was a training curriculum that applies the findings of adolescent development and relates research to practice issues confronted by juvenile court practitioners at the various decision-making stages of the juvenile justice process. The National Juvenile Defender Center has used the modules for training across the country and continues to organize sessions for defenders, prosecutors, probation officers, judges, and other juvenile justice professionals. 

Please note that the MacArthur Curriculum may not be used for training without the permission of the National Juvenile Defender Center. If you are interested in hosting a training session in your area, please contact NJDC (

The Curriculum is comprised of six modules (all are included in PDF download above), each focused on a different topic, listed below. NJDC is currently working with its partners on an updated version of the MacArthur Juvenile Court Training Curriculum.

  1. Kids are Different:How Knowledge of Adolescent Development Theory Can Aid Decision-Making in Court 
  2. Talking to Teens in the Justice System: Strategies for Interviewing Adolescent Defendants, Witnesses, and Victims 
  3. Mental Health Assessments in the Justice System: How to Get High-Quality Evaluations and What to Do With Them in Court 
  4. The Pathways to Youth Violence: How Child Maltreatment and Other Risk Factors Lead Children to Chronically Aggressive Behavior
  5. Special Ed Kids in the Justice System:How the Recognize and Treat Young People with Disabilities That Compromise their Ability to Comprehend, Learn, and Behave 
  6. Evaluating Youth Competence in the Justice System

Supplement: Literature Review 

Reform areas: Juvenile indigent defense, Mental health

Categories: Juvenile indigent defense

Uploaded Feb 26, 2009

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.