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.
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.
Adult to child: “You should know better.”
It’s time courts said something similar to law enforcement agencies. The unusually large number of judicial appointments for openings on the federal bench this year presents a unique opportunity to respond to calls for improved policies and better training for law enforcement in its interactions with youth.
Can the conviction of Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke
finally force policing into the 21st century?
Chicago continues to reel from the shocking circumstances surrounding the shooting death of 17-year old Laquan McDonald four years ago by police veteran Jason Van Dyke. The case sparked massive protests, the ouster of the police chief, the electoral loss of the state’s attorney and the first conviction of a police officer in 50 years for a murder committed while on duty. It almost certainly contributed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision not to seek another term.
In August, an 11-year-old African-American girl was tased by a Cincinnati police officer when he tried to apprehend her for shoplifting. The news was greeted, predictably, with dismay by officials there.
After all, most of the public does not like the idea of a small child being subjected to police force, particularly when she was fleeing from, not advancing toward, the police officer.
A new presidential appointee has quietly changed decades-old federal policies meant to improve racial disparities in youth incarceration.
Policing should be treated like a public health issue, forcing the entire system of recruitment and training to change.
Last week, a Dallas County jury sentenced former police officer Roy Oliver to 15 years in prison for murdering 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Oliver shot Edwards in the head while he was in a car with several other teenagers. Edwards might not have lost his life if Oliver had been better trained in the unique aspects of policing teens.
While considerable progress has been made among law enforcement to treat young victims differently, too many police and prosecutors still fail to recognize that in the delinquency setting, young children do not perceive, process, and experience the world as adults do and also need to be treated differently.