Our Publications

New Tool For Parents:
The Parents’ Checklist For School Resource Officers In Your Children’s Schools
English [PDF] | Spanish [PDF]

September 2017

Strategies for Youth is pleased to announce our new handbook—The Parent’s Checklist for SROs in Your Children’s Schools. 

English version

Spanish version

The goals of this checklist are to: (1) help parents understand the often confusing and ill-defined role of School Resource Officers, (SROs) within their child’s school; (2) effectively navigate interactions with SROs, and (3) advocate, when necessary, to SROs and school officials on behalf of their children. The handbook identifies for parents key issues and questions that may arise about the scope of authority of police officers deployed in school, including:

  1. What is the legal authority of the Memorandum of Understanding between police and school officials?
  2. Will SROs engage in routine school discipline situations, and if so, how?
  3. Do state laws mandate or prohibit certain behaviors and actions?
  4. What is the scope and nature of any training that SROs complete?
  5. Have any complaints been lodged against SROs currently working in my children’s schools? What avenues do parents have to complain about actions taken by SROs?
  6. Do written policies exist on the use of force and restraints by SROs?
  7. How are parents notified when their child has an encounter with an SRO?
  8. Do SROs receive any specialized training about how to interact appropriately and legally with students with special needs?

We encourage all parents and parent organizations to download this guide, use it as a reference and a resource, and disseminate it widely to others.  In addition, we hope our Policy Engagement page becomes the “Go to” site where parents, youth advocates, legislators, police departments and others turn for current information about the state of policies, standards, and laws regarding policing of our nation’s youth.

We welcome feedback about the usefulness of the information offered on this site and suggestions for increasing its effectiveness.

Where Is The State? Creating and Implementing State Standards for Law Enforcement Interactions With Youth
Full Report [PDF]  |  Executive Summary [PDF]

Rhonda McKitten and Lisa H. Thurau, Esq.
May 2017

In professions where adults are in regular contact with children–such as health care, education, and day care—the state is heavily involved in setting and enforcing clear standards. Law enforcement officers are the gatekeepers for the justice system. They determine who is arrested, who is not, and who enters into the juvenile justice system and these decisions can dramatically and permanently alter a youth’s educational and professional opportunities. Given the magnitude and long-term impact of encounters between youth and law enforcement, there is no reason why law enforcement agencies and officers are not subject to the same levels of accountability, training and guidance.

Avoiding ‘Profiling by Proxy’

Lisa Thurau and Bob Stewart

Bob Stewart

Bob Stewart

Lisa Thurau

Lisa Thurau

Originally posted by the Vera Institute of Justice, Reposted by The Crime Report March 31, 2016

When an individual calls the police and makes false or ill-informed claims of misconduct about persons they dislike or are biased against—e.g., ethnic and religious minorities, youth, homeless people—police must be careful to avoid “profiling by proxy”…

First, Do No Harm: Model Practices for Law Enforcement Agencies When Arresting Parents in the Presence of Children [PDF]

First_Do_No_Harm-CoverLisa H. Thurau, Esq.
May 2015

This report outlines key model practices law enforcement agencies can use to safeguard children from the long- and short-term impacts of being present when a parent is arrested.

Applying JDB v. North Carolina:  Towards Ending Legal Fictions & Adopting Effective Police Questioning of Youth

Lisa H. Thurau and Sia Henry
Chapter 13 in compliation book,  A New Juvenile Justice System: Total Reform for a Broken System, April 24, 2015

Book-A_New_Juvenile_Justice_SystemA New Juvenile Justice System aims at nothing less than a complete reform of the existing system: not minor change or even significant overhaul, but the replacement of the existing system with a different vision. The authors in this volume—academics, activists, researchers, and those who serve in the existing system—all respond in this collection to the question of what the system should be. Uniformly, they agree that an ideal system should be centered around the principle of child well-being and the goal of helping kids to achieve productive lives as citizens and members of their communities.

If Not Now, When? A Survey of Juvenile Justice Training in America’s Police Academies
Full Report [PDF]   |   Fact Sheet [PDF]

Report: If Not Now, When?Lisa H. Thurau
Strategies for Youth, February 5, 2013

Over the past decade, police have become a ubiquitous presence in the lives of many youths, particularly those living in disadvantaged communities. They are now routinely deployed in public schools and police are frequently the first responders in domestic disputes involving juveniles. Yet, police receive surprisingly little training about adolescent psychology and behavior. Strategies for Youth conducted a national, comprehensive survey on the state of training about juveniles available in police academies. This report presents the findings.

Putting a Developmental Approach Into Practice

Lisa H. Thurau
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, January 7, 2013

Having developmental competence means understanding that children and adolescents’ perceptions and behaviors are influenced by biological and psychological factors related to their developmental stage.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish, and No One the Safer for It

Lisa H. Thurau
Bay State Banner, October 11, 2012

As all eyes focus on the failings of the police lab analyst, it’s time for Massachusetts citizens to open their eyes a bit wider and focus on the next avertable catastrophe in the making.

Connecting the Dots Conduct and Goals: Why the “Scared Straight” Approach Doesn’t Work [PDF]

Dr. Jeff Bostic and Paige Pihl Buckley
The Journal of School Safety, Fall 2012

Law enforcement officers are in a very powerful position to effect positive change in the lives of young people. If an officer has the right tools and understands the emerging adolescent brain research, that officer is better positioned to communicate with youth in a meaningful and positive manner.

Law Enforcement Needs Options, Not “Kiddie Handcuffs”

Paige Pihl Buckley
In Public Safety Blog, June 28, 2012

This April, 6-year-old Salecia Johnson was removed from her Milledgeville, Georgia school in handcuffs after throwing a temper tantrum. The girl had been sent to the principal’s office after allegedly pushing two of her kindergarten classmates. Once there, Principal Dianne Popp tried in vain to calm the child who tore items off the office walls, threw books, and knocked over a small shelf that struck the principal in the leg. When the principal was unable to regain control, she called police.

The Need For Developmental Competence For Adults Working With Youth

Dr. Jeff Bostic and Lisa H. Thurau
Youth Transition Funders Group Blog, February 6, 2012

A New Mexico federal court judge recently received a complaint citing the following facts: a 13-year-old boy repeatedly belched in class. While this was amusing to his pals, the teacher found it disruptive. Unable to get the 13-year-old to stop, the teacher called the school resource officer. The officer refused to arrest the boy for belching, but the teacher insisted. The officer arrested the boy…

Survey Of Policy Chiefs Shows Need For Police Training To Work With Youth

Lisa H. Thurau
Reclaiming Futures Blog, September 15, 2011

At a  training of Massachusetts MBTA Training Academy recruits in July, a police officer said to the group, “What I am telling you today we did not get when we were in the academy. Now you’ve got a leg up in dealing with kids by knowing this stuff.” The officer had been trained in a train-the-trainer capacity building effort by Strategies for Youth. “Knowing this stuff about kids makes working with them easier and less stressful and believe me, they can be stressful,” he told the recruits.

Why Police Need To Understand Trauma [PDF]

Lisa H. Thurau
Youth Transition Funders Group Blog, June 7, 2011

The girl is maybe 15 years old? She is standing in the back of a building, or maybe it’s an alley way.  She has her arms wrapped around her body and her teeth are chattering.  When the officer approaches and tells her to leave the alley way she shakes her head and refuses.  The officer moves in closer and reiterates his order to leave. Suddenly the girl is lunging at him, screaming, “Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me! Get away from me!”…

Radio: Youth and Police: Improving Interactions to Reduce System Involvement

Dr. Jeff Bostic and Lisa Thurau
BlogTalkRadio, December 3, 2010

Schools and law enforcement are typically the gatekeepers of the juvenile justice system. Building relationships among youth and police can reduce the influx of youth into the system, reduce unnecessary arrest and disproportionate minority contact, and minimize juvenile justice involvement.

Controlling Partners: When Law Enforcement Meets Discipline in Public Schools [PDF]

Lisa H. Thurau and Johanna Wald
Article, 2010

Not surprisingly, behaviors such as schoolyard scuffles, shoving matches, and verbal altercations—once considered exclusively the domain of school disciplinarians— took on potentially sinister tones and came to be seen as requiring law enforcement intervention.

How To Police The Teen Brain: Necessary Steps For Remarkable Impacts

Lisa H. Thurau
Youth Transition Funders Group Blog, June 16, 2010

This interaction personifies the kind of policing methods many officers already use and many more could benefit form learning.  This officer clearly has the “magic” to interact, intervene, and prevent such conflicts—without recourse to the courts.

Not Your Older Brother’s MBTA Police

Lisa Thurau
June 3, 2010

Last month, a spirited group of youth voiced their concerns about being treated disrespectfully by police. They were organized by the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF). They were articulate. They made reasonable demands. And four days later, their demands were taken seriously.

Smart Policing For Kids 

Lisa H. Thurau
Youth Transition Funders Group Blog, May 14, 2010

It often seems as if no week goes by without the media reporting some incident involving the use of excessive force by police on youths. In spite of a brief outcry by the public that typically.

First, Do No Harm: How Educators and Police Can Work Together More Effectively to Preserve School Safety and Protect Vulnerable Students 

Johanna Wald and Lisa H. Thurau
CHHIRJ Policy Brief, March 18, 2010

A decade after police officers have become a ubiquitous presence in public schools across the country, their purpose and impact remain shrouded in mystery. The responsibilities, daily functions and goals of “school resource officers” (SROs) are often subject to very different interpretations by police and school officials within districts, and poorly understood by parents, students, and even the courts.

Taking School Safety Too Far? The Ill-Defined Role Police Play in Schools [PDF]

Johanna Wald and Lisa H. Thurau
Education Week,
February 24, 2010

This past November, a food fight in a Chicago middle school resulted in the arrest of 25 students between the ages of 11 and 15. Parents, youth advocates, and others rightly questioned the decision to criminalize teenage antics that, let’s face it, seemed relatively mild. Plenty of us, after all, can recall hurling food at friends in the school cafeteria at a similar age.

Rethinking How We Police Youth: Incorporating Knowledge of Adolescence into Policing Teens

Lisa H. Thurau
Children’s Legal Rights Journal, Vol. 29, Number 3, Fall 2009

The dynamics of police/youth interactions are often characterized by high rates of arrest, use of force during interactions, juvenile court involvement, counterproductive incarceration, and disproportionate minority contact.

Summer Special Trainer Bothered By Editorial [PDF]

Lisa H. Thurau
Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror, October 1, 2009

As the person who was hired to train the police officers and summer specials on how to work with youth, I am struck at your editorial’s inability to follow some of the rules we recommend police follow, and which you no doubt would view as sensible, when working with youth: look for the good intent gone awry, restate the rules, and redirect.

When Asking, “Why Me?” Means Disorderly Conduct [PDF]

Lisa H. Thurau
Youth Today: Viewpoints, September 1, 2009

The altercation here this summer between Professor Henry Gates and Officer Joseph Crowley raises important questions about what youth around the country have learned from it, because youth are more likely than adults to be arrested and sent to court for rubbing cops the wrong way.