How it works
The game is the key pretrial preparation process children receive for their court appearance. It has been implemented as part of the Barnahus Model applied by the Children's House in Cyprus.
There are two versions of the game tailored for different age groups - one for 7-12 and one for 12-17 year-olds. Each version is made up of four mini games, including a maze, 3D courtroom tour, puzzle and role play activity.
These activities use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to help children understand court procedures and reduce anxiety. For example, the role play game introduces the key people who’ll be in court, how they’ll speak and the delays that might occur.
By giving children knowledge of what they’re about to face, it removes the fear of the unknown and helps build their confidence when testifying.
It was also important to us to make the game inclusive. With its emoji-style design without racial or gendered characteristics, all children can relate to the activities and feel like they belong.
Another strength lies in the game’s versatility. It can be easily adapted for different languages, cases and procedures, allowing for a better pre-trial experience for children across the globe.
In 2022, the game was used in Cyprus as part of six children’s pre-trial preparation. Using this game with children showed a significant reduction in stress, demonstrating its ability to reduce trauma during proceedings.
The game also improved children’s legal knowledge, helping them better understand court procedures and vocabulary. This empowered them to be more confident witnesses, with one child feeling able to ask for clarification of a question in court.
It’s also benefited practitioners, allowing them to do their jobs more effectively. One practitioner said:
‘It is a structured, time effective and easy way for a practitioner to be able to deliver the required information to the child in a playful way, developed for their needs’.
In 2023, we won the Crystal Scales of Justice prize for our work on the game, beating 48 submissions from across Europe. This was an exciting moment that recognised our hard work and commitment. But what really drives us is helping as many children as possible.
Now, we’re implementing the game across Cyprus and working with Europol to bring it to Mexico, where there’s a strong need to support children pre-trial. Meetings are also underway with organisations in England with the hope of launching it here.
It’s my dream that by 2027 the Ministry of Justice will make our game mandatory for all children preparing for court. This would empower every child to feel prepared and confident to tackle a difficult experience - and help them get the justice they deserve.
* Human Rights Channel