Its goal is simple: To teach children that the choices they make today can affect their lives forever. The 20-week curriculum focuses on the legal and social consequences of juvenile crimes, such as truancy, illicit drug use, shoplifting and graffiti.
Since its inception in 1993, Project LEAD has touched the lives of tens of thousands of students in public schools throughout Los Angeles County. It also has been replicated in several other states and foreign countries.
Project LEAD teaches students techniques for resolving conflict and resisting peer pressure. Other lessons promote tolerance and respect for diversity. Another lesson demonstrates the role of education in achieving economic stability and acquaints students with basic household budgeting. The program concludes with students performing a scripted mock trial, putting into practice what they have learned about the criminal justice system.
In addition, Project LEAD facilitators are encouraged to take their classes on optional field trips.
Researchers have found that Project LEAD produces positive results. According to a 2005 evaluation, students graduate with “protective factors” that helped them maintain positive attitudes about the justice system, the importance of education and the benefits of making the right life choices.
For more information about Project LEAD, please contact the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Public Affairs Division at 213-257-2960 or LEAD@da.lacounty.gov.