Training to Avoid Tragedy

Now, more than ever, we see the consequences of bad interactions between police and the communities they serve. When encounters between police and youth go wrong, the individuals, their communities, and all of us pay a steep and sometimes irrecoverable cost.

Something is tragically broken. But at Strategies For Youth, we know there is a way to fix it.

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SFY Featured in July 17th New York Times Article

Brian Lowe

EXCERPT from What Do Police Know About Teenagers? Not Enough.

“The day Brian Lowe attended a training session for police officers on understanding the minds of teenagers, he knew his job would never be the same.

…in the training session, “Policing the Teen Brain,” Mr. Lowe learned all the ways that adolescents are different from adults. For instance, because of their less-developed prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain charged with problem solving and controlling irrational behavior — and the coursing hormones of puberty, they are not always in command of their actions. Children who have suffered violence or other trauma are even more likely to become emotionally unstable under stress.

Most police never learn this.”

Read the Article »


Strategies For Youth’s training reduces contentious encounters between police and youth, unnecessary arrests of youth for minor offenses, and disproportionate policing
of children of color. 

New Report

Check out our newest report, Forging Partnerships with Law Enforcement: A Guide to Juvenile Detention Reform, which includes helpful implementation tools for JDAI stakeholders.

A Lack of Training

Policing kids is hard. There’s scientific reason for that: kids’ brains aren’t developed (and won’t be until they are in their mid-20s) so they act more impulsively, take risks, and often make bad decisions. But training for encounters with youth amounts to 1% or less of the total training officers receive.

And schools don’t teach children how to interact with law enforcement, and even well-meaning advice isn’t always the right advice.

Real Consequences

When contentious interactions occur between cops and kids, when there are racial disparities in policing, law enforcement’s relationship with the community is severely damaged and hard to heal, making police work more difficult.

Once involved with the juvenile justice system, a young person’s future is at stake: their risks skyrocket for dropping out of school, substance dependency, homelessness, early pregnancy, and criminal behavior as an adult.

“Whenever there is interaction between the police and juveniles, it garners a lot of attention. And if that attention is negative, it chips away at the trust we’re trying to build with the community.”

Peter Newsham Chief Washington DC Metro Police Department

The Solution

In communities where Strategies for Youth has worked, we’ve seen that developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed, and racially equitable training for youth and and law enforcement officers and agencies can lead to up to a 84% decline in juvenile arrests.

Training For Youth

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Strategies For Youth provides trainings for youth to learn about the law, the behaviors and actions that put them at legal risk, and the consequences of engaging in risky behavior. We help build their confidence and set the groundwork for positive interactions with police.

Training For Law Enforcement

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Strategies For Youth advocates for law enforcement officers and agencies and we teach officers how the adolescent brain works, how young people feel and make decisions, how trauma affects kids’ behaviors, and how to deescalate encounters with youth.

Support Our Efforts

Strategies For Youth interventions provide practical and safe approaches that save lives, families, and money. Your support helps to make that happen.


Lafayette (IN) Police Department

“Policing the Teen Brain has been the best training that I’ve been to for a long time. It has not only been put to use at work, it’s been invaluable when dealing with my own kids.” I have heard this from almost all of the Lafayette Police Officers that have gone through Policing the Teen Brain [training].”

Kurt Wolf, Captain

Tippecanoe County (IN) Youth Services

“In Tippecanoe County, Indiana, we have witnessed a 31.7% decrease in total resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct and battery against law enforcement charges from 2013 to 2015. The only thing that has changed during this time frame was the implementation of Policing the Teen Brain and Juvenile Justice Jeopardy in our community. These strategies impact how law enforcement approaches youth (Policing the Teen Brain) and how youth approach law enforcement (Juvenile Justice Jeopardy).”

Rebecca Humphrey, Youth Services Executive Director and Tippecanoe County JDAI/DMC Coordinator

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

“Two Indianapolis businessmen provided funding to replicate Juvenile Justice Jeopardy. They recognized that this game does what schools use to do, and then some. Our youth are rarely taught how to interact with police officers. This game, by simply teaching them how to behave and warning of consequences associated with their behavior, has been helpful in changing young people’s views of police interaction. This game has truly proven to be a Godsend for us.”

Read Full Endorsement Letter »

— Richard A. Hite, Chief of Police

Los Angeles Police Department

“In addition to training officers, SFY’s approach connects officers with community based organizations that serve the youth. This makes officers realize there are alternatives to arrest and there are places in even most challenged communities that are safe havens for youth. When community leaders and police offer talk sense together with some of our city’s most vulnerable youth, the outcomes for public safety improve dramatically.”

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— Charlie Beck, Chief of Police

— Robert F. Green, Deputy Chief Commanding Officer, Operations-South Bureau