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Civics on Call: Youth and Police

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Deadly confrontations, some captured by video, between police and citizens in recent months and years have raised protests and sparked a national debate on police use of force and alleged racial discrimination. Many teachers report that their students often have questions and concerns about what they see reported in the news, as well as those questions that may arise from their own experiences with law enforcement. Constitutional Rights Foundation offers these lessons and other instructional materials to help classroom teachers address critical issues related to role of police in society and laws and procedures that govern them.

The classroom materials are:

Police and the Use of Force. This lesson plan for use in middle school and high school grades gives students the opportunity to role-play police officers in deciding the appropriate uses of force in a variety of situations.

Policing the Police. This lesson plan for use in middle school and high school allows students to simulate the activities of a police board of rights tasked with reviewing complaints of police misconduct. Students also learn about the kinds of policies that police follow as representatives of local government.

Racial Profiling. This balanced reading and classroom role-play activity from CRF’s Criminal Justice in America textbook for upper high-school grade levels give students a background for discussion of racial profiling and police tactics in the investigation of crimes. In the activity, students are part of a committee of advisers to their state’s governor to help craft legislation on racial profiling.

Police Body Cameras and the Use of Force.  This balanced reading and classroom activity from CRF’s Bill of Rights in Action quarterly gives students background for discussion on policies for the use of police body-cameras. In a small-group discussion activity, students decide what the best policy on body cameras should be.

You and the Police. This one-page fact sheet gives general advice to young people on what to do if they are ever stopped by police, with an emphasis on cooperation and staying safe.