Think About It First! Cards

Think About It First! cardWhat are Think About It First! cards?

Our Think About It First! cards were created to educate youth about the potential consequences of arrest and involvement in the juvenile justice system. The cards provide youth with a summary of laws regarding distribution of juvenile arrest and court records.

Who Came Up with the Idea?

The cards were first created in 2005, when then Sgt. Kenneth Green of the MBTA Transit Police Department (now Lt. Green, Deputy Chief of Community Relations), was surprised to learn of the many collateral consequences youth face after being arrested and adjudicated delinquent in Massachusetts. “If I had a card telling kids that actions could lead to their mom losing her housing and them not being able to get into the military,” Sgt. Green said, “it’d be a useful icebreaker and a way of making them understand the long range impacts.”

Why Should Communities Use Them?

The cards are an important tool for communities, equipping youth with knowledge that could prevent them from entering the juvenile justice system. As Sgt. Green said, many youth are unaware of the devastating collateral consequences of arrest and court involvement: potential loss of public housing, exclusion from the military and other employment opportunities, suspension or expulsion from school, etc. Think About It First! cards are an easy, non-confrontational way for community leaders, parents, educators and others to warn youth about these consequences, and to make sure they enter the world with all the knowledge they need to stay safe and out of the system.

More Info: How To Use SFY Think About It First Cards

Why Should Police Use Them?

The cards provide officers an icebreaker during interactions and when they are called to intervene to discuss the short and long term consequences of youth’s behaviors. In non-incident contexts, the cards provide officers a way of opening a conversation with youth. SFY has found that once youth are given these business-sized cards, they often keep them for a very long time and refer to them often. “It’s a real wake up moment for some kids,” says one Massachusetts officer. “It helps them connect the dots between their behavior and the consequences.”

Which States Already Have Think About It First! Cards?

California
Indiana
Massachusetts
Maine
Minnesota
Montana
Nebraska – English and Spanish
New York
Wisconsin

Interested in using the Think About It First! card in one of these states?
Contact us for more information: 617.714.3789 or info@strategiesforyouth.org

Support Creation of a Think About It First! Card for Your State

We are currently working with four other states to create Think About It First! cards. It costs about $2,500 to write, design and print 10,000 cards. Please consider making an earmarked contribution for development of a card!

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