Peaceful Posse is a youth program where students meet approximately once per week to talk about their feelings about life, school, family, stressors, the media, identity, daily challenges, coping tips, and how to respond to various scenarios that come up. Peaceful Posse groups tend to meet with either all boys or all girls. PSR has run Peaceful Posse groups since 1995.
“I have watched this group begin to respect each other more and appreciate each other’s point of view. I am particularly impressed with the group’s ability to encourage each other to participate and share their individual ideas.”
— Peaceful Posse Group Leader
Peaceful Posse operates with the core belief that if/when a person is given a safe outlet to discuss their feelings, then healing can occur and violent behaviors will be minimized. By addressing various topics in the group, youth strengthen their communication skills, identify their feelings, and build relationships with peers and with the group leader.
The relationships between the leader and participants can serve as a mentoring relationship who can offer advice and help to create the safe space. PSR Pennsylvania recognizes that it takes time to build trust and that Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods with different needs and priorities.
Hence groups are tailored to the needs of the participants. Groups traditionally meet for 10 to 30 weeks per cycle, depending on the site. Encouraging youth to express their emotions and notice what comes up helps to prevent violence, promote healthy communication, and foster problem-solving techniques.
“[Peaceful Posse] is having a place where you can close the door and talk. This is our group and our group leaders really listen to what we have to say.”
— Peaceful Posse Girls Group Participant
Youth Court uses a Restorative Justice model in the classroom where students who receive pink slips or disciplinary actions at their school can have their issue discussed among their peers in mock court room setting rather than going through the Principal’s Office. Students in the mock courtrooms take turns playing roles as Judge, jury, defendant’s lawyer, bailiff announcer, and legal teams.
The goals of Youth Court are to:
Encourage youth to think about the consequences to their actions
Establish a way for youth to listen to and decide how to handle their peers’ misbehaviors
Provide students with an opportunity to learn more about legal careers
Decrease the number of school expulsions, drop out rates, and detentions
PSR Philadelphia has hosted Youth Courts since the mid 90s at over a dozen middle and high schools. According to the National Association of Youth Courts, Youth Court programs exist in 39 states across the United States. Indeed Youth Court builds leadership and accountability.