This study examined how participation in a rural Teen Court impacted the psychosocial functioning, social relationships, and school experiences in a sample of 392 participants in the Teen Court compared to two samples of youth who have not participated in Teen Court, one involving 4,276 youth from the same county as the Teen Court and 3,584 from a neighboring county.
Teen Court is a prevention program aimed at diverting first-time juvenile offenders from the traditional juvenile justice system and reintegrating them into the community; however, few studies have examined whether Teen Court impacts adolescent functioning. In addressing this research gap, the current study determined that the impact of the rural Teen Court examined was to assist in decreasing participants' internalizing symptoms, externalizing behavior, violent behavior, parent-adolescent conflict, and association with delinquent friends, while increasing self-esteem and school satisfaction. (Publisher abstract modified)
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