When children attend court hearings, they can be confused or anxious about what is happening. To provide a measure of comfort, Nebraska judges are giving children booklets to help explain the court process.
“These booklets give children who are coming to court a familiar outlet that can relieve their stress, explain in part how the system works, and most importantly let them be themselves while reminding the rest of us why we are there,” said Judge Larry Gendler, Separate Juvenile Court in Sarpy County.
A comic book illustrated by Nebraska award-winning artist Paul Fell titled “Ben and Emma discover their Super Powers” is intended for children up to age 12. The message of the story is that each child has a voice in the court system and that their voice gives them their own ‘super power.’ Children are encouraged to talk to their lawyer and with the judge about their needs and concerns.
“My Adventure Guide to Court” is a coloring book designed for children up to age 8. The drawings, created by UNL students, leave room for children to express their emotions and record contact information. Children needing assistance with reading will be helped by their lawyer or caseworker. Each booklet is distributed with a set of crayons.
The coloring book and comic book were developed by the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Court Improvement Project and Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative. The Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative consists of multidisciplinary teams dedicated to improving the outcomes of children in the Nebraska child welfare system. The organization has, for the past several years, been a major part of the Supreme Court’s efforts to improve court processing in abuse and neglect cases.