The scenarios referred to in this exercise support Bankruptcy: Don't Let it Happen to You, produced by the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges. The scenarios are fleshed out in this material and include discussion questions. They are designed for judges and lawyers to use with teachers and students in the courtroom or classroom. The scenarios increase students' awareness of common financial pitfalls encountered by young people that can lead them to consider bankruptcy. Each anecdote also touches on the considerations for and consequences of bankruptcy. The scenarios are a springboard for discussing four common areas of risk for young people in high school, college, and the workforce. They are as follows:
- An example of how entering the workforce with an inability to distinguish needs from wants and overusing credit cards can precipitate financial crisis.
- An example of how not thinking through the ability to pay for all the costs associated with a car purchase can result in repossession of the vehicle.
- An example of how spending based on the expectation of future income can set the stage for overspending, the accumulation of debt, and long-term financial consequences.
- An example of how not carefully reading credit card applications can have serious financial and legal consequences.
This scenario is not on the CD-ROM Bankruptcy: Don't Let It Happen to You.
Court Literacy Learning Objectives
- To provide a general exposure to bankruptcy court and establish rapport with judges as the human face of the Judiciary.
- To convey, in a way that is relevant to young people, the considerations for and consequences of filing for bankruptcy protection.
- To make the point that bankruptcies don't "just happen." Often--but not always--they are the result of a series of poor choices and detrimental patterns.
In the Classroom
- The scenarios may be used individually or as a series.
- Familiarity with the scenarios is required preparation for a visit to bankruptcy court. Every scenario is a fictionalized account of real-life circumstances.
- Introduction to Bankruptcy: Explaining General Concepts is available for the teacher to use as background information and as a supplement, if a bankruptcy lawyer is invited to visit the classroom.
In the Classroom or Courtroom before a Court Visit with a Judge
- Have the students read the four scenarios.
- View Bankruptcy: Don't Let it Happen to You
- Talk through the discussion questions.
Optional Court Visit
Teachers may arrange for a bankruptcy court visit that may include an observation of a hearing recommended by the bankruptcy clerk (found in the federal government telephone listings or by contacting Rebecca Fanning, National Outreach Manager, at email@example.com). If a judge is available, he or she may discuss with the students his or her personal experiences, observations, and perspectives. The purpose of this exposure is as follows:
- To learn, in another way, about bankruptcy court.
- To learn from a bankruptcy judge about the life circumstances that can precipitate bankruptcy, and the considerations and consequences associated with it.
- To put a human face on the Judiciary, and provide career information by having a judge talk about life as a bankruptcy judge, including qualifications, career path, selection process, and term of service.