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Teacher Lesson Return to "Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil"
Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
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Silenced in Court

The writer of “Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil,” goes to family court numerous times for a hearing on her sexual abuse case, but each time she is not allowed to speak in court. Not being able to tell her side of the story—and finding out years later what her family said about her to the judge—leave her feeling angry and betrayed.

Prompts for discussion and/or writing:

• Do you agree that youth should be allowed to speak in family court? Why/why not?

• The writer says she was hurt more by not knowing what was said in the courtroom than by anything she might have heard there. What is your reaction to this? Are there times when you wish you knew the truth rather than having it hidden from you? Are there times when it is better not to know the truth?

• The writer found out the truth years later by reading her records. Are you interested in seeing your records some day? Why/why not?

Activity: Youth can work in pairs or in small groups. Youth are not currently allowed in the courtroom because the adults in charge say: 1) the child will be disturbed by what she hears, 2) lawyers are better able to represent the child, and 3) children should not know certain things about their parents that may come out in court. Have the young people come up with responses to these three points. Go around the room, list on board, discuss. What are the pros and cons of having a child appear in family court? Is there a middle ground between having children appear all the time and keeping them out of court altogether?

Roleplay: A foster youth and a lawyer. The lawyer thinks the youth shouldn’t be in court, because she will be disturbed by what she hears. The foster youth wants to be in court so she can know the truth and tell her side of the story.
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(FCYU-2001-01-06)

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