Op Eds and Opinion Pieces by Strategies for Youth
Legislators, reformer communities, government agencies and parents ask Strategies for Youth for guidelines, research and model policies. You can explore some of those questions by flipping the blue boxes and then reading our opinion pieces on those topics.
When it comes to police reform, the kids are not all right. That is apparent from videos and news accounts that assault us almost daily. Over and over again, we see instances of children?some as young as six years old?and teenagers being needlessly traumatized at the hands of law enforcement.
While she cried for her father, police pepper-sprayed and forced her into a patrol car. This girl isn’t alone, and states need procedures to protect them. A mom called police saying her 9-year-old daughter was suicidal and threatening her in Rochester, New York. The first officer to respond to the incident, which happened last week, called dispatch for backup, and six cars rushed to the scene. Officers gave the girl little time to calm down, while dragging her in the snow, cuffing her and shoving her in a patrol car. When she refused to put her feet into the vehicle, and continually cried out for her father, officers pepper-sprayed her into submission.
“Police stops of young people may unintentionally increase their engagement in criminal behavior,” write SFY Executive Director, Lisa H. Thurau and Adam D. Fine of Arizona State University in this Op-Ed for The Crime Report.
As if on cue, the same day that Strategies for Youth released its survey of state legislatures’ training requirements for police in schools — commonly referred to as school resource officers, or SROs — a video of a school resource officer slamming an 11-year-old girl’s head into a concrete wall went viral. The clip of a clearly traumatized child pleading for a male adult police officer to “get off of me” as he screams at her, while a school official meekly protested the treatment, vividly illustrates the report’s central premise: that the SRO program, as it exists in most states, desperately needs training and oversight.
It is frequently noted that middle ground is increasingly hard to find these days. This is particularly true in the emotionally charged debates about how to keep schools safe. On one side are those who argue that school police-or School Resource Officers (SROs)-are necessary to keep students and staff safe, particularly from the horrific shootings that have become altogether too commonplace.
Training standards could protect officers by setting clear expectations for performance, while increasing consistency of law enforcement interactions with youth.
It’s been five years since an unarmed Michael Brown was shot by police on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., triggering a wave of protests and nationwide efforts—including a federal task force—to address the legacy of frayed relations between police and communities. But the recurring stories about police shootings of civilians across the country since then have made it obvious that the central issue of American law enforcement has not been tackled.
The winners of the first annual “Youth Voices Contest,” sponsored by Strategies for Youth, offer poignant—and hopeful—takes on the often-charged relationship between young people and police.
The real risk of undertrained school resource officers.
Children and their parents have long felt anxious about school. This year, however, many leave home each morning suffering from an acute fear unknown before 1999: that their school will be the site of another mass shooting. Since last year’s deadly school shootings, parents, psychologists, and educators report that children are suffering from PTSD and panic attacks that may be adversely affecting their brain development.
The Portland School Board should rethink its decision to pay for police officers in schools (“Portland School Board votes to pay for police in schools amid outcry,” Dec. 12). Our experience, borne out by studies, is that police are deployed in schools in haphazard ways, rarely receive appropriate training in education law, adolescent psychology, or de-escalation strategies, and respond in ways that undermine the educational mission of a school.