Why I Give to Strategies for Youth


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Mail check to:
Strategies for Youth
P.O. Box 390174
Cambridge MA 02139

Ian Barlow is a Detective for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in Washington, D.C.

Detective Ian Barlow

Strategies for Youth Gives Officers the Tools To Make a Positive Difference for Kids

“I am a detective who speaks with youth constantly in custodial arrest settings and have used things taught in the SFY training countless times.

“The training made me question what I was personally doing to have a positive influence in the lives of the children I interact with in my career? The answer to myself was: Not enough.”


“I thought about how the normal time I spent with kids in my job was 30 minutes to an hour. While interviewing them for a crime, I offered advice on making better decisions, but I offered no follow-through and additional time.

I also thought about how I could provide that advice to kids before they were sitting next to me charged with a crime. This class directly influenced my decision to volunteer my personal time at a local school in Baltimore City where I speak to kids on a monthly basis about things pertaining to law enforcement. While this is just being done at one school, I have spoken with command staff about bringing a similar monthly program to other schools in the community that we serve, and I believe that will happen.

There is definitely a need for this training.

Given more and more police are hired with no college degree, there is a need to educate them about the people they serve no matter what age they are. Recruits may receive training about the differences in processes for juveniles versus adults, but they receive no information about the juvenile mind and its development. The class helped to bridge the gap.

How officers respond:

Dr. Brittany Parham

Police officers by culture are resistant to change, and an overwhelming number of officers are resistant to mandatory training. It doesn’t matter what the training is, there is usually about only 10-20 percent of any group of officers who have an open mind to training of any kind.

When this training was announced, it was not warmly received. I myself also thought that this class was going to take 2 days of valuable time away from my on-going investigations.

Why this training works:

Having a clinical level practitioner to teach the class brought a knowledge base that was needed, and is often not what officers receive. A lot of training is taught by other officers who aren’t experts. Training coordinators may watch a PowerPoint or go to a two class, and then they may teach the whole department. Outside of a lawyer who teaches legal code, it is rare for law enforcement to receive such qualified instruction.

And who teaches the class matters. When someone is teaching me, I assess their credibility for teaching the class. Having Dr. Birttany Parham Patterson in the class made the difference for me and others. No matter how anyone felt about the content being presented, no one could argue that she was qualified to be there.

Usually most trainings are so quiet you could hear a pin drop, because it is ‘death by PowerPoint’ or straight lecture. The class I attended was engaged and officers with varying years of service contributed due in large part to how Dr. Patterson teaches.

You could also tell Dr. Parham Patterson wants to be there. While she presented details on the juvenile brain that I have never been taught, she also talked about trauma in relation to kids in a way that many had not considered. She was receptive to our comments, showed respect for our profession, and even smartly offered a small bribe of candy for participation.”

Debbie Lashley, Esq.
Retired Assistant District Attorney
Kings County District Attorney’s Office, Brooklyn, New York

Debbie Lashley, Esq.

Strategies for Youth Is Unique

“As a retired prosecutor who served for over 30 years in the Juvenile Crimes Bureau in Brooklyn, New York, I’ve seen the indelible impression a youth’s first interaction with an officer leaves and how little youth understand the role of law enforcement.

“SFY is unique. It is the only organization that works with both youth and police to promote perspectives, policies, and skills for improving police/ youth encounters, without ascribing blame to either group.”

“I also have seen firsthand how an officer’s inability to understand youth who are scared and traumatized can lead to harmful escalation of interactions between youth and police.

This is why I give my time and financial support to Strategies for Youth as a board member.

SFY provides relaxed, neutral settings for police and youth to have conversations leading to greater opportunities for understanding to occur. This enables officers to have more insight about youth and to de-escalate interactions with youth. That’s why SFY can boast such powerful impacts.”


Anthony McDonald
Probation Officer
Porter County, Indiana

Anthony McDonald

I Give to SFY For Hundreds of Reasons: The Kids

“The Juvenile Justice Jeopardy (JJJ) has been implemented into monthly programming in Porter County, Indiana’s Juvenile Justice Services, as well as Chesterton High School, and New Vistas Charter School. The game helps youth learn about the long term impact their behavior can potentially have on their future, their rights under the law, and how to interact positively with law enforcement officers, school personnel, and authority figures.

“JJJ programming has been an important step toward lowering recidivism rates and improving relationships within the community.”

“We find Jeopardy to be an effective way to interject fun, open dialogue, and higher learning, while fostering improved relationships between youth and the justice community in Porter County,”