At the beginning, a hip-hop music track sets the tone of a typical teenage party. There is something unlawful going on in each room of the house. The presenter walks the teens through each room, and by using examples from actual court cases, gives them 7 reasons to leave that party.
Students are given a blank "contract" containing a pledge not to drink alcohol, not to drive with someone who has been drinking, and to promise that if they are at a place where they feel uncomfortable or unsafe, they will call the parent or guardian for a ride home, no questions asked. Both the teen and the parent or guardian are encouraged to sign the contract. The first 5 percent of teens at each school where the presentation takes place, who present a signed contract to their driver's education teacher or other school official, will receive a key chain flashlight, courtesy of the IJA – and more importantly, gain a new respect for the importance of lawful conduct and the role that the judicial system plays in it.
By the time these "party-goers" hit the courthouse, it is too late. The "7 Reasons" program is the judges' attempt at preventative law. It concedes that the people who have the most influence on teens are not judges but their peers. The goal is to give the majority who do not drink or do drugs the inspiration they need to convince their peers not to go down this road, thereby saving their friends from having a criminal record, losing their driver's license or even saving their friend's life. The presentation is blunt, visual and interactive.
"It wasn't just a bunch of adults blowing smoke. This is what really happens."
Target audience: 7th through 12th graders
For more information, or to request this program in a school, contact: Kathleen Hosty, Executive Director, Illinois Judges Association, 321 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604, or call (312) 431-1283, or log onto our web site at www.ija.org.