Best Practices

Norfolk: The Norfolk Juvenile Justice Collaborative

norfolk combined seal

At a glance

• Impressive outreach: In 2010, the Norfolk Juvenile Justice Collaborative reached thousands of young people – over 1,200 students from June 7-18 alone.

• Virginia Rules: The Norfolk Model: The Juvenile Justice Collaborative named its mission: “Virginia Rules: The Norfolk Model” to position itself as a city where all agencies work together to educate youth and to help teach them to make good choices.

• An impressive partnership: The Norfolk Juvenile Justice Collaborative brings partners from every area of the community to improve the life of Norfolk youth.

• A long-term commitment: A part-time administrator, funded by a recent grant, will continue to bring “Virginia Rules: The Norfolk Model” to the city’s youth.

In depth

Partners against crime
Norfolk takes its commitment to youth very seriously. To educate youths and help them make good choices, the Norfolk Juvenile Justice Collaborative named its mission: “Virginia Rules: The Norfolk Model.”

The Collaborative draws from every area of the Norfolk community. Partners include Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Norfolk Public Defender’s Office, Norfolk division of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Norfolk Public Schools, Norfolk Police Department, Norfolk Sheriff’s Office, Norfolk City Manager’s Office, Norfolk Recreation, Parks and Open Spaces, faith-based churches and communities, Norfolk-Portsmouth Bar Association, Virginia Women Attorney’s Association, South Hampton Bar Association, Norfolk Community Services Board, and a large number of community service providers committed to improving the lives of Norfolk youth. 

A targeted approach
The program boosts its outreach by using a variety of delivery partners and venues. Public and private members of the Collaborative worked together tirelessly to deliver the Virginia Rules curriculum through various points of entry – recreation centers, after school programs, churches, community forums, and, of course, schools. 

And since many teachers are local lawyers, law enforcement personnel, and civil servants, they can draw on their experience and on local events and trends to make lessons relevant to students. Teachers saw added impact when students could relate lessons to local events and sometimes even peers from local publicized court cases.

Building momentum
In the summer and fall of 2010, the Collaborative reached thousands of youth through the Virginia Rules law-related education curriculum. The program gained momentum throughout the year and culminated with 40 trained volunteers teaching 1,200 8th graders in the Norfolk Public Schools on “Introduction to Laws in Virginia” (with an introduction on “Accomplice Liability”) during the last two weeks of the 2009-2010 school year. Many local lawyers took part in this training, which was met with rave reviews by students, teachers, and administrators, as well as the volunteers who gave their time to be a part of “Virginia Rules: The Norfolk Model.” 

Recently, the city of Norfolk was awarded a small grant by a private foundation to hire a part-time administrator so that the Norfolk Juvenile Justice Collaborative can keep the “Virginia Rules: The Norfolk Model” initiative moving forward.

Contributor: Linda L. Bryant, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney, Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office

If you have a good idea or lesson plan that you're willing to share, please email it and any supporting materials to Shannon Freeman at

Back to the Best Practices main page »