Courtroom designed with children in mind

By Jena Johnson - bio | email | Twitter

TYLER, TX (KLTV)- Testifying in court can be overwhelming for anyone, especially a child. To make the experience easier on children, The Discovery Science Place has partnered with the Children's Advocacy Center and CASA to create a mock courtroom.

Michael Shanklin, executive director of The Discovery Science Place said the mock setting is designed to help children feel comfortable when testifying about a painful experience in court.

Lead therapist at the Children's Advocacy Center, Jason Isham, counsels sexually abused children on daily basis. He says it's a difficult process.

"As you might imagine it's real scary for a child to go to court and talk about some of the most intimate details of their life in a room full of strangers," said Isham.

Isham hopes the mock courtroom creates a safe environment for children, and hopefully a smooth transition into an actual courtroom.

"They will practice what it's like to be sitting in the witness chair," he said. "The Kids in Court coordinator will point out where the defense attorney will be, where the defendant will be sitting, where the prosecutor will be. So, we'll kind of be able to recreate what it's going to be like."

Shanklin says he hopes the mock courthouse will also teach kids about the judicial system.

"We want them to learn about different aspects of law and then really I think role playing is really important so they can see themselves in that role and see what being a judge is like," said Shanklin.

"It will enable us to get really close to the courtroom experience," said Isham.

The mock courtroom is scheduled to be completed by late spring.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.