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10 Things to Tell Our Youth About Being Stopped by Police

Peace of mind: That’s one quality of life that none of us can buy. And there’s nothing that gives us more peace of mind than to know that our beloved children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews are safe and happy. But, lately, a string of news stories about police shootings of unarmed black men has made us a little more uneasy.

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Of course our children can’t always be in our sight. And as a mother I know that we hope there’s never a reason for them to be stopped by the police. But, just in case, the most we can do is simply give them some guidelines about what to do and what not to do if it happens — then pray that they stay calm and remember our instructions.

President Obama and Vice President Biden recently meet with police officers to discuss ways to build trust between the police and the community.

Here’s a source that’s generally in line with what’s been taught by civil rights organizations. Patrick Crawford, president of Crawford Consulting and Mental Health Services, recently conducted a workshop at the University of the District of Columbia.

A licensed clinical social worker, Patrick is known for teaching people how to reaffirm dignity and mutual respect in volatile situations. He gave “ 10 Rules of Survival When Stopped by Police” as posted on

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Here’s a synopsis that we could share with our loved ones:

1. Be polite and respectful. Police officers need to feel that they are in a nonthreatening environment.

2. Stay calm and remain in control. You may be scared and even think your rights are being violated. But just relax. Watch your words, body language and emotions.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, get into an argument with the police. If the officer is out of line, you can file a complaint later.

4. Keep your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at all times. Make no aggressive motions.

5. Avoid physical contact with police. Don’t even brush against an officer.

6. Don’t run from a police officer even if you feel afraid.

7. Don’t resist arrest even when you know you are innocent.

8. Always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law.

9. Make no statements about the incident until you are with your parents, guardian or lawyer.

10. Remember, your goal is to get home safely. If your rights are being violated, you will have the right to file a complaint or take corrective actions later.

We wish we could protect our kids when something unexpected happens. But giving them wisdom that they will hopefully remember may also leave us with a bit more peace of mind.

AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into AARP Real Possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP Black Community, and connect with us on AARP Black Community Facebook and AARP Black Community (Twitter).


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