Unit 2: The Legal System in Action

How does a law on paper compare to the way a law is implemented in practice? How can a law impact public policy in other levels and branches of government? Why do some laws have unintended consequences?

In this unit, students examine how the legal system actually works. Using the issue of school safety and the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 (GFSA) as a focus, students consider how and why laws are created and enforced, and the complex ways in which the different legal sectors (branches and levels of government) interact to maintain the rule of law. Students examine the different approaches that law enforcement professionals use to promote school safety, and consider both the intended and unintended consequences of a law. Students also explore how youth and adults advocate for a more effective and just legal system. In this unit, students conduct research, work in teams to gather and share information, and write to inform and educate the public about school safety and the law.

Unit Project

Drawing on their understanding of school safety legislation, the U.S. legal system, and the effects of laws and policies on youth, students develop a multimedia presentation for a community forum to educate the public on school safety and the law. As members of a project team, students explore advocacy organizations that are focused on laws and policies designed to address school safety. Teams choose one advocacy group whose mission and strategies they support, and create a presentation on how this group works within the legal landscape and uses data to support its efforts.

Unit Length: 23 50-minute sessions


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Media Resources
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