KIDS AND TEENS IN COURT- A Program “of the Heart” at the Chadwick Center


“Toto… I Have A Feeling We’re not in Kansas Anymore….”  

Ahhh… the infamous words of an innocent little girl trying to find her way to the yellow brick road….  It’s pretty much the same feeling magnified a thousand-fold for innumerable numbers of children across the US and beyond, trying to understand, “How and why did I get here?”             This mahogheny fortress… this foreign place with black robes, strange language and grownups I’ve never seen before….   Where is Mommy? Where is my favorite toy?

It is in times of great stress, after the culmination of physical and /or sexual abuse or domestic –family violence, that a child is often “forced to tell” the circumstances of their ordeal… to face their accusers. The fact that a child would have to succumb to the laws of the land in the name of justice… (a term so abstract and misunderstood by most adults) is beyond all understanding.

May I say, that the great halls of academia, other institutions or sterile clinical settings are not at all comforting for children They are scary places filled with the unknown virtually around every corner.  As a little girl, Ladyjustice was made to take up residence in those scary medical setting over, and over and over again to face yet another surgery. They are more kid-friendly now. However, courtrooms have a LONG way to go in easing the pain of a child who is often re-victimized. It is a different story for at least 200 San Diego area families per year, as they are provided with a wonderful and innovative program offered by Leslie Peterson LCSW, RPT.

“Shattered Lives” host, Ladyjustice had the good fortune to spend over an hour interviewing Leslie regarding some of the issues involved with child victims participating in the court process and the trauma informed care approach.  Join us… You will learn a great deal….


  • Intimate Partner Violence PSA by Amy Robinson
  • Introduction to our guest
  • History of The Chadwick Center
  • The partnership that became the Kids in Court Program
  • What sets them apart – specialization regarding all aspects of trauma
  • The “sweet spot”….with a few options….
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy and trying to replace the negative thoughts…
  • Delilah asks about human Trafficking victims and how they are approached in treatment…
  • Leslie responds regarding the severity of response in therapy… and the neutral aspects of the Kids in Court Program….
  • The bridge between the legal and therapeutic side…..
  • Kids & Teens in Court and Trauma Counseling and the DA’s office…  TEAMWORK!
  • The first night…. Second night… Third night…
  • A set curriculum regarding activities …but customized….
  • Trauma…Is testifying in court traumatizing for life?  So many factors….
  • Geography served….
  • Dependency Court versus Criminal court…
  • A discussion of “Facing Your Accusers” and Confrontation Clause based on the Constitution
  • A defendant has the right to face their accuser in criminal proceedings…
  • Preparing the child for seeing  the “bad person”
  • Sexual abuse…a disempowering experience…and how to take it back….
  • A report card for the volunteer judges….
  • Delilah discusses “Crawford Versus Washington” confrontation clause and the possibility of using the EAA and Document the abuse to circumvent the traumatic process of testifying…
  • Defining hearsay… and the design of the EAA specifically for abuse child victims taken outside of the courtroom – seems to be tailor made for the EAA?
  • Kudos to Robin Sax for using the EAA in  Los Angeles, California
  • Leslie’s response – the research shows it’s multifactorial….
  • London Canada – Kid s in Court Program – Resource:
  • Ladyjustice asks about Leslie testifying in Court- criminal or family court…
  • A discussion of How Stress changes a Child’s brain…..
  • Dr. Bruce Perry –A pioneer-
  • Fight or flight…. Children living in a “haunted house” forever…
  • The brain’s plasticity…and the ability to “bounce back” if they get out and into treatment…
  • Dr. Vincent Felitti and the ACES – Adverse Childhood Experience Study…..
  • Tips for Helping Children Cope with Stress of a Trial-
  • How do you quality for the Kids in Court Program? – A tiny… but unique program
  • Measuring client’s level of stress- The Court Related Stress Scale for Children
  • Contact information: Chadwick Center Kids & Teens in Court:
  • ***The curriculum is for sale to anyone for use in prosecutor’s offices, courts, victim  advocates, etc
  • 858-966-8682;
  • Leslie’s parting thoughts…


Questions You May Have…….

  • How did the Chadwick Center evolve and what is their treatment model?
  • How are the activities chosen or structured?
  • What’s involved regarding “power thoughts and “positive affirmations?”
  • Are there different treatment models for different sources of trauma?
  • What really happens with the kids and the parents each night during the program?
  • How is this experience from the parent’s perspective?
  • An array of parent reactions….
  • What’s the verdict on long term trauma for children?
  • How do you define “Dependency Court” and what is the process?
  • What techniques help to ease the child’s anxiety when seeing the perpetrator?
  • What percentage of offenders is known to the child – whether parent or caretaker?
  • How do they approach kids testifying in court in Canada?
  • What does Dr. Bruce Perry’s research say regarding the brain after experiencing “calm and explosion” over a prolonged period of time?
  • What physical condition was first identified with the ACE Study?
  • Should parents of children of sexual abuse and violence be treated with “kid gloves?”

  KIDS AND TEENS IN COURT- A Program “of the Heart” at the Chadwick Center

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.

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