"B.J. Learns About Federal and Tribal Court," was designed to provide information to native American child witnesses and guidance material for the adults who supervise its use with children. The specific objectives are:
Before the Program
You can do several things both before and after showing "B.J. Learns About Federal and Tribal Court" that will promote active learning. These include:
Before viewing the video you can:
Ask the child: What is court? Do you know anyone who has ever been to court? Have you ever seen the Tribal court building? Do you know what it means to tell the truth?
Explain to the child that s/he will be watching a video about B.J. who was asked to go to court in order to help by telling what he knew or what he saw happen. B.J. is worried about going to court because he does not know what court is all about or what to do when he gets there. Explain that B.J. and his friends, Joe and Audrey, learn about two different kinds of court, Tribal and Federal court, and the people who work there. Specify what kind of court the child will be going to.
Obtain a copy of such aids as the coloring book Me in Court (see Suggested Readings). Point out the children in the book and ask the child to color a picture of them.
View the video with the child.
Three young native American children, B.J., Joe, and Audrey are playing basketball on their reservation. B.J. is distracted and worried because he has to go to court in a week in order to testify. The children go to Audrey's grandmother for help. Grandmother starts to explain but decides that it would be better to show the children what Tribal and Federal court are like. First, B.J. and his friends find themselves in Tribal court, where the participants define their roles. The judge then takes them to her chambers where they meet Donna, a victim-witness advocate, and Walter, a Federal court judge. Walter takes the children to Federal court where they meet additional court members who answer their questions about what it means to testify and be a witness. B.J. is overwhelmed with all of this new information, but Donna assures him that she will be there to help. The video ends with each child answering a series of questions that are of concern to native American children who go to court.
After the program
After viewing the video you can:
Ask the child: Why did B.J. have to go to court? Did he do anything wrong? What does it mean to testify in court? What does it mean to be a witness?
Ask the child what questions s/he has about court. If the child seems withdrawn and unwilling to answer questions, you can have him/her find the picture of the witness in the coloring book and work with the child to talk about what s/he does. If you cannot obtain a coloring book, make some simple pictures with the child.
Explain again the role of the two courts, Tribal and Federal, and again specify the court to which the child will go. Discuss where you fit in the process.
Have the child take out a coloring book and color various members of the court. If a coloring book is not available, the child can draw these figures on unlined paper. Go over again what the judge, court clerk, jury, prosecutor, and defense attorney do (the judge is like a referee in a basketball game, the court clerk asks you to tell the truth, the prosecutor asks questions first to show the judge what happened, the defense attorney helps the person being blamed to tell his/her story).
Tell the child that children go to court to testify about many things. Ask the child if s/he can give you an example. Do not go into the details of the child's own experience.
Ask the child where s/he can go to for help if s/he has any questions.
Thank the child for helping out by telling what s/he knows or saw happen.