This booklet, geared toward teenagers from 13-18 years, tells the story of a Native American boy named Brandon whose family is involved in a child welfare case.
The story of Brandon is part of a series of materials for children, ages 2-18 years, who are participating in the justice system as victims or witnesses, created by the Center for Court Innovation’s Child Witness Materials Development Project with funding by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). Designed to support children during their involvement in the criminal justice and child welfare systems, this booklet’s target audience is American Indian and Alaska Native children, ages 13-18 years, who are facing experiences in the dependency court system. The story uses a ‘choose your own adventure’ format to simulate the decision-making process and encourage teens to learn to ask for help with complicated family situations and bullies at school; it focuses on normalizing and validating teenagers’ feelings and experiences, teaching healthy coping and resilience-building skills, and explaining the roles of the people involved in the Social Services system. Throughout the story, teens are prompted to acknowledge how they feel and are encouraged to perform mindfulness meditation and a four-step muscle squeeze to help them relax. The booklet also includes a checklist of activities to maintain good mental health.