GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING LAW-RELATED (LRE) EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR AT-RISK STUDENTS

Every community should have this for troubled youth. Click here to learn more or read an excerpt below.

 

Materials and Resources · Take field trips (for example, to local courthouses, police stations) · Use outside resource people, such as judges, lawyers, police officers, sheriffs, exoffenders, encouraging them to present differing points of view · Use relevant literature: newspapers, magazine articles, brochures (especially from special interest groups), radio, television, videos – in order to present all sides of any particular issue.
Rationale for Law-Related Education’s Content/Teaching Strategies/Materials In the literature of law-related education there is a current interest in the concept of “Resiliency”. Resiliency has been defined as a person’s ability to successfully adapt to stressful events. As well as the characteristics of law-related education, listed above, other factors both familial and social that put youth at risk for delinquency or other antisocial or problem behaviors include: family conflict; a family history of high-risk behavior; poor family management practices; economic and social deprivation; living in a dysfunctional community where drugs and alcohol are readily available and where high rates of crime exist.
The question that researchers examined was “How do some youth who experience these risk factors, pertaining to home and community, manage to resist engaging in delinquency or other anti-social behavior?” According to these researchers, the answer is that such youth appear to be “resilient”. That is, they have the ability to successfully overcome the effects of a high-risk environment, and to develop skills in social competence, despite exposure to severe stress.

Characteristics of “Resilient” Youth

Researchers have identified four key characteristics of youth who are resilient:

1. Social Competence: Responsiveness to others; conceptual and intellectual flexibility; caring for others; good communication skills; sense of humor

2. Problem-Solving Skills: Ability to use abstract thinking, such as understanding rules and laws; reflective thinking; critical-thinking; to develop alternative solutions to frustrating problems, such as calculating the consequences of one’s actions, thus perceiving cause and effect relationships

3. Sense of Autonomy: Having a positive sense of independence; experiencing emerging feelings of efficacy; having positive self-esteem; being able to control impulses

4. Sense of Purpose and the Future: Planning and goal-setting; having a belief in the future; delaying gratification

Factors that Promote “Resiliency”

As well, researchers have pinpointed four factors that clearly promote resiliency:

1. Bonding: This feeling of “being connected” to others is considered by a number of researchers to be the overarching protective factor in the development of healthy behaviors

2. Opportunity for Meaningful Participation: Teachers and facilitators need to ensure the constant presence of interactive approaches to learning

3. High Expectations for Behavior: Youth need to be tutored in and encouraged to hold high and promising expectations for themselves

4. Norms for Healthy Behavior: Youth need to practice and rehearse clear rules of conduct, while being encouraged to model desired behavior

Discussion Law-Related Education researchers, teachers and supporters argue that the content and teaching strategies of LRE are especially well suited to developing the very factors that promote “resiliency”, and the kind of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that well contribute to the development of resiliency in at-risk youth. Here are six examples to support that claim.

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