Gender and race influence youths’ responses to a training on the law and safe police interactions

Rebecca L. Fix, Adam D. Fine, Pamela A. Matson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Youth-police contact is frequent and can have seriously harmful consequences. To improve youth-police relations, it is important to equip both police and youth with the tools needed to encourage the safest interactions. Few programs exist to educate youth about the law or how to interact with police. We used a mixed-methods approach to evaluate a school-based program for middle and high school students in the U.S. that focused on educating them about the law and strategies to promote safer youth-police interactions. We obtained data from Strategies for Youth, the organization that provides a Juvenile Justice Curriculum including Juvenile Justice Jeopardy. Participants (N = 872, ages 10–20) in five states completed pen-and-paper surveys immediately before and immediately after completing the program. Participants’ knowledge increased after the program, particularly for self-defense claims following a fight and about pat downs. Gender and race impacted some knowledge-based responses, highlighting some potential differences in socialization. Most participants indicated that they felt more prepared to effectively interact with police officers. 42% of youths believed that they could learn similar information from the Internet. Our study demonstrated that the Strategies for Youth curriculum is feasible and demonstrates promise in improving youths’ knowledge and self-reported skills to safely interact with police.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJustice Evaluation Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Adolescent
  • intervention
  • knowledge
  • mixed methods
  • program evaluation
  • school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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