This Is What Leadership Looks Like
Strategies for Youth has been fortunate enough to work with youth leaders who are eager to improve police/youth interactions. Many youth have been galvanized to act by recent events.
The death of Trayvon Martin deeply affected Laura Jenny, a student at Leominster High School. “I have friends in high school who have been arrested. What happened to Trayvon [at the hands of George Zimmerman] could have happened to my friends or my brother in situations with police.”
Isaac Annan, a classmate of Jenny’s, was deeply affected by the Cleveland Division of Police shooting of Tamir Rice. “That could be prevented if kids know how to act when approached by a cop,” Isaac said. “We wanted to show our peers how to avoid escalating interactions with police.”
Laura and Isaac, created an organization called Protecting Law Enforcement and Youth (PLAY) at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster in Massachusetts. PLAY’s goal is to reduce tension between law enforcement and youth.
Then Laura found Strategies for Youth.
“I thought the Juvenile Justice Jeopardy
game would be a good fit because kids like games. I wanted to find something where youth could interact.” Laura worked with Donata Martin, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster (BGCFL), to host the game at the Club. She invited Officer Phillips from the Leominster P.D. to participate in the first game.
Since then, Laura Jenny has worked with SFY to play the game at the Boys & Girls Club, with over 300 high school students, and persuaded other groups in Worcester and Springfield to play the game, too.
Chief Robert J. Healy of the Leominster Police Department sent officers to play the game. “With our police officers already involved at the BGCFL we felt this would be a great opportunity for us. The program has further enhanced our relationship-building skills, respect and understanding of today’s youth. We have been fortunate to be involved in the Juvenile Justice Jeopardy
program with Strategies for Youth and look forward to more programs and positive interactions.”
Laura reported that the police officers who played the game said “‘Wow, we’ve never seen anything like this before.’”
Ms. Martin, the CEO of the Fitchburg and Leominster Boys & Girls Club, “the kids are very receptive…it just gives them more civic, law, and education behind the civic enforcement.”
Looking back on their efforts over the last two years, Laura and Isaac said “ We got a great reaction from kids. They seemed to be really receptive to the topic and learned a lot and that makes us want to go deeper into this project and do other things to help spread our mission to help both kids and law enforcement.”
Learn More On Our Website: Juvenile Justice Jeopardy (JJJ)
Read More About The Impact of JJJ In These Two Recent Article:
• Youth Today: Interacting With Police: Teens Lead in Training Peers (PDF)
• Youth Today: Police Official Says Game Helps Officers Make Inroads Among Youth (PDF)
SFY Goes To The White House!
SFY's Executive Director was invited to participate in the RETHINK DISCIPLINE Summit convened at the White House on July 22nd. The Summit focused on both the harms of and alternatives to suspension, expulsion and arrest of youth in the public schools. Superintendents and school leaders from 41 districts attended the Summit.
Lisa participated on a panel about the role of police in the public schools with Ronald L. Davis, Director of the Community Oriented Policing Services of the U.S. Department of Justice Programs, Professor Jennifer Eberhardt, and Judge Steven Teske.
Learn More About the Convening and Related Resources
Kentucky SRO Handcuffing Case
The Children's Law Center of Covington, Kentucky and the ACLU filed suit on behalf of 8 and 9 year old children with learning and emotional behavioral disabilities whose behavior led teachers to ask an SRO to restrain the children. In a widely circulated video made by the school department, the SRO is seen cuffing one child's arms behind his back. Kentucky's school regulations strictly prohibit use of restraints and seclusion of children by school personnel and SROs.
SFY was sought out by several media organizations, including the New York Times
, CNN, Associate Press, and the Huffington Post to discuss the importance of training officers to work with children and youth using developmentally appropriate and trauma-informed approaches. Here are links to the coverage:
• NYTimes: A.C.L.U. Sues Over Handcuffing of Boy, 8, and Girl, 9, in Kentucky School
• CNN: Lisa Thurau Interviewed on CNN by Michaela Pereira 08/05
• CNN: Lisa Thurau of SFY on CNN Newsroom with Brook Baldwin 08/04
• HuffPost Live: Jeff Bostic interview: ACLU Sues School Officer For Handcuffing Students