ASK THE DA: Week of November 3

November 4, 2011 Charles J. Hynes
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I have two young children who are spending ever-increasingamounts of time on their computers. I am writing to ask how I canlearn more about internet safety.

My office has a program in which members of our staff visitelementary schools throughout Brooklyn to educate fifth-gradestudents about the criminal justice system as part of our LegalLives Program.

Prosecutors and support staff from my office work together withprivate attorneys, corporate volunteers, judges and teachers toinstruct students about the law and its role in their lives. LegalLives was founded in 1990 in response to a drastic increase indrug-related and bias crimes.

The program involves weekly interactive lessons; take-home lessons,a radio show and mock trials. Students are taught about a varietyof topics including Internet safety, drugs, drinking and driving,hate crimes, gun possession, domestic violence, shoplifting andviolence.

Lessons in the curriculum examine the facts of the actual cases.Students role-play the facts of the cases, respond to questionsthat are related to the crimes, learn elements of the law pertinentto their age group, and participate in mock trials.

Ultimately, the discussions focus on the choices made by thecharacters in the lessons. Many of the lessons that are taught inthe classrooms are reinforced through trips to the courts, policeprecincts and District Attorney’s Office.

The Legal Lives Program has been replicated in schools across thestate and country. If you want your school to participate in LegalLives, contact Judith Destin at 718-250-2580.

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