According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the amount of African-American teenagers who are arrested for everything from minor to major crimes is disproportionately high to every other ethnicity in the country. Although there are many different theories about this issue, it is perhaps most important for parents to recognize that this statistic could make their teen afraid of having any encounters with the police. Unfortunately, fear can often produce a very negative response that will end up having serious ramifications. Therefore, it is important to help your teenager prepare for dealing with law enforcement. 

How to Properly Deal with Law Enforcement 

Whether your teen has already had several issues with the law or has simply expressed their fear of the police, you should sit down with them and go over their options for encountering an officer and handling themselves appropriately.

  • Polite conversation is key – If your teenager is approached by the police for any reason, it is important for them to remain polite. In other words, they need to avoid saying anything sarcastic, and they should be as cooperative as possible without getting themselves into legal trouble. In fact, if your teen is polite and does not showcase any aggressive behavior, they are much more likely to avoid being taking to a police station.
  • Keep their Hands Visible – Many teens have the tendency to shove their hands into their pockets or strike a defensive pose that includes making a fist when they feel confronted. Instead, you should teach your teenager to keep their hands visible, relaxed and at their sides during the encounter. If they happen to be in their vehicle when they are interacting with a police officer, they should keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times. It is also important to let the officer know if they need to move their hands to access something such as their registration.
  • Discontinue rude behavior -It is important to let your teen know that they should never continue actions with a negative connotation while speaking to an officer. As stated by one Florida criminal law firm, “A mistake or misstep, something you may wish you hadn’t done a second later, can have the potential of derailing the rest of your life.” For example, smoking in front of a law enforcement officer is considered to be discourteous, and could influence the way the officer treats them.
  • Never Run – No matter how afraid your teen is of the police, you need to convince them that they should never run from the police. After all, running will greatly increase their odds of experiencing a physical altercation, and it will also make them much more likely to be met with force. In other words, even if they have done something wrong, it is better for them to politely face the consequences of their actions than to end up seriously injured or dead because they made the decision to run.

Unfortunately we live in a time that, although modern, still has its fair share of racial stereotypes.  Even in law enforcement, there will be individuals that typecast others based upon appearance. If your teenager ends up in legal trouble, you should contact a skilled criminal attorney immediately. Keep in mind that nothing is finalized until the judge or jury has their say, and an experienced lawyer can help you overcome several legal obstacles to prevent your teen from spending an exorbitant amount of time in jail due to a single mistake. 

J.L.Williams is a mother of two and an advocate of fair treatment practices. The criminal attorneys at http://www.orlandocriminalteam.com/ are experienced and will fight to protect the rights of their central Florida clients.