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Children are often expected to testify in criminal court proceedings throughout Canada.  Many of these children are very young.  They are often victims of sexual or physical abuse or have witnessed acts of violence.  This web site is designed to help children understand how court works and about what their job is in court.  This site can also be used to teach any child who has an interest in learning about how the legal system works.

The web site is child-friendly and interactive.  Children will meet "Cory the Court Dog" who acts as a guide throughout the site.  The site is intended to provide educational information about the court process for children.

Here Are Some Helpful Suggestions For Parents And Support People To Follow When Visiting This Site With A Child

  1.    

As they travel through the site, children who are expected to testify may have questions or concerns about going to court and may need some support.  If you are unable to answer the questions your child has, you can contact someone in your community who works in the legal system.  There is information about who you can contact in the "Contact" section of this site.

   
  2.    

Do not discuss with the child the facts of the case or anything related to the evidence.  The site is not meant to be used to review or discuss the facts of the case.  The purpose is to provide general information on the court process and the role of the witness.  The crown attorney will meet with the child to review the evidence prior to court.

   
  3.    

Children who are expected to testify in court will need support.  It is very important that the child has a support system in place to help him or her cope with feelings or concerns about going to court.  The child's support system may include the parent(s), a treatment provider, court support personnel or other significant people in the child's life.

Tips For Parents For Court Day

Going to court can be stressful.  Here are some suggestions to make the day a little less difficult.

  1.    

Be prepared to spend the entire day(s) at courthouse.  Most subpoenas will advise you to be at court early in the morning but you may not even get into the courtroom until after lunch!

   
  2.    

Be early - some courthouses have security checks - you don't want to be stuck in the line up (possibly with the accused).  If the courthouse does have security checks, it will make things easier and quicker if you empty your pockets of all metal items (coins, etc.) beforehand.

   
  3.    

Dress comfortably - a trial is a formal proceeding but that does not mean you have to be all dressed up.  Your child should be neat but comfortable.  Remember, it could turn out to be a long day.

   
  4.    

Take along some snacks, drinks and things to do (books, cards, small games) in case there is a lot of waiting around.  You may want to have some change in case you need to use a pay phone

   
  5.    

Many smaller children take a comfort toy (teddy bear, small action figure) to hold while they are testifying.  Older kids (and adults) find it helpful to have a small object to hold in their hands to absorb the extra energy that comes with being nervous (stress ball, beads, etc).

   
  6.    

Talk to your child about whether or not, he or she would like you to be in the courtroom while he or she testifies.  (Note - if you are also a witness in the trial you probably will not be allowed in the court while your child is testifying) - not all children want their parent/caregiver in the room while they speak with the judge.

   
  7.    

If there are breaks (lunch, recess) that happen while your child is testifying, do not discuss the evidence during the breaks.  You may talk to him or her about how he or she is doing or feeling, but not what he or she is testifying about.  Reassuring your child that he or she is doing an important job can be helpful.

   
  8.    

If you are also a witness, consider taking a support person for yourself - someone who could sit in court while you're testifying.  If you are not a witness and will be in court while your child is testifying, remember that you are not allowed to communicate with your child in any way - no nodding, gestures, etc.

   
  9.    

Finally, when court is over you can let your child know that you understand that testifying in court is a very important that takes a lot of courage to do.




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