An effective approach to a nationwide issue
Unfortunately, encounters between young people and police that result in tragic outcomes are all too prevalent across the country. How can such tragedies be prevented? At YW Boston, we have found a simple and effective approach – bringing youth together with police officers for several weeks in a row and guiding them in activities that can heal broken trust and build ongoing police-community relationships.
We partner with schools and youth-serving organizations and with several police departments to form Youth/Police Dialogues series. Over the course of four to six Dialogues sessions, our highly trained facilitators lead a group of youth and officers in:
- Voicing and addressing negative experiences and stereotypes
- Exploring how youth-police relationships affect community safety
- Building more trusting personal relationships
The Youth/Police Dialogues series is offered at no cost to our partner organizations.
Our Youth/Police Dialogues illuminates barriers between the youth and the officers and has them work together to brainstorm solutions. The four to six session curriculum covers topics critical to rebuilding positive relations, including stereotypes youth and police have of each other and the “stop snitching” culture and how to change it. The Dialogues are highly interactive and structured to increase trust and build relationships, using group-generated agreements, role play activities, and 1-on-1 conversation.
Youth participant, speaking about police before the Dialogues
"I feel ok, but because of things that happened, I don’t trust them fully. I have little faith in them."
Same youth participant, after the Dialogues
"I feel like it has changed me. Because I’ve gotten to know more about cops. Also, not to judge based on one thing and to give second chances. Don’t let people stereotype you, and don’t judge cops based on another cop."