Training Principles of Policing the Teen Brain

Strategies for Youth (SFY) police officer training provides scientific and evidence-based information and practical strategies that meet the varying needs of officers working with youth.

SFY training supports officers

Police offier speaking in front of a training class

  • Making interactions with youth easier and faster, less conflicted and more compliant
  • Asserting authority effectively with youth with reduced reliance on force and arrest
  • Recognizing and responding appropriately to youth presenting mental health and addiction issues

SFY training helps police departments

  • Demonstrate investment in youth and increase youths’ trust and communication with police
  • Reduce departments’ overtime and court costs by partnering with youth serving, community-based organizations for low-level offenses
  • Support good community relations and reduce complaints

SFY training helps youth and communities

  • Develop relationships with police who can serve as role models, guides and resources
  • Promote law enforcement careers with youth
  • Increase safety in schools and neighborhoods

Core SFY Training Components

  • Developmental Explanation of Normative Teen Behaviors
  • Lessons from Psychology & Psychiatry: Tactics for Working with Compromised Teens
  • Legal Aspects of Police Involvement with Youth
  • Demographic Overview of Youth & Implications for Behavior
  • Cultural Issues Affecting Adult/Youth Interactions
  • Strategies for Asserting Authority & Getting Compliance from Teens—Without Arrest or Use of Force
  • Recognizing and Addressing Implicit Bias
  • Developing Community-Based Partnerships – And Using Them
  • Trying it on For Size – Role Playing with Officers & Youth

Training Approach

Class of trainees watching a training videoEach training is developed with police officers and involves community-based youth-serving organizations, and local youth who are paid to participate in role-plays. Methods of instruction include interactive discussions with adolescent development experts and psychiatrists, films, and involvement of community youth.

Read the full article by Lisa H. Thurau and Dr. Jeff Bostic:  The Need for Developmental Competence for Adults Working with Youth.