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Many children learn at a young age that police officers are friendly people who are here to help. An officer may have spoken to your child’s class, or they saw friendly depictions of the police in books. These familiar figures offer a striking contrast to the officers seen on the news. Discussions about racism, police brutality and violence toward Black Americans are so widespread that children are starting to ask questions. Here are a few things to consider when speaking to your kids about police brutality.

Remember, police brutality is a civil rights violation. If you or a loved one was the victim of excessive force by police officers, contact the Michigan Legal Center. Our attorneys will protect your rights while working to seek justice on your behalf.

Ask Your Children What They Know about the Police

Young children may not know much about police officers or what they do. Asking what they know can help guide your conversation. Ask specific questions to gauge your child’s knowledge of law enforcement. It also may be helpful to describe law enforcement’s primary role in the community:

  • Police officers are people whose job is to keep others safe
  • They arrest people who break the law, which are rules we all have to follow
  • Sometimes, officers arrest people and take them to jail

Once kids understand what cops are supposed to do, it will help your conversation about police brutality.

Acknowledge Their Feelings

Explaining police brutality to children can be difficult. It is impossible to justify why anyone would harm another, but it becomes even more complicated when the person who is supposed to protect others harms them instead. When talking about police brutality, your children might show feelings of anger, fear, or confusion.

As parents and guardians, we must acknowledge those feelings and help our children work through them. Do not force them to hide their emotions, and be sure to help them identify ways to express their feelings in a healthy way. You might even have similar feelings, saying something such as: “I know it’s upsetting to hear about these things happening. It upsets me too.”

It is even more troubling to hear your child voice concerns over cops killing them. Your response will vary depending on their age. If it’s a younger child, you can be reassuring and say something such as: “You don’t have to worry about that.” However, as children get older, you may have to have a more serious conversation about it. Black parents often refer to this as “the talk” to increase the odds that their child will survive an interaction with police officers.

Regardless, you do not want to respond in a way that will scare them, but you should still be honest. Remember, most police officers work to protect themselves and the community.

At the end of the conversation, remind kids that many people are working to change the system, and that leaders and protesters across the globe are trying to make things better and fairer for everyone. Many police departments throughout the country are making changes to their policies to ensure officers are more careful, safe, and fair. Most importantly, these changes seek to make cops more accountable for their actions.

Contact a Police Brutality Lawyer in Michigan

If your child was the victim of police brutality in Michigan, it is vital to contact a police brutality attorney. The longer you wait, the more time law enforcement will have to build a case against them. At the Michigan Legal Center, we have more than 20 years of practice fighting on behalf of Michigan residents and will work tirelessly on your behalf. Speak with one of our police brutality lawyers today by calling 1 (800) 961-8447 or completing our contact form today.

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