Many believe the controversial bill puts the onus on children to deescalate or handle encounters with police, not the other way around.
The New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill last week requiring schools to teach children how to interact with police, NBC News reports.
According to the New Jersey State Legislature’s Office of Legislative Services, Assembly Bill A1114 passed unanimously in the Assembly 76-0. The bill still has to pass the Senate.
The bill mandates the following:
1. School districts start teaching kids how to talk to law enforcement officers starting in kindergarten
2. This instruction continues all the way to grade 12
3. Department of Education must work with a committee to create the curriculum
Critics of the bill say it puts the responsibility from the police officers to the children. New Jersey teacher and activist Zellie Imani told NBC News, “This legislation does not empower young people, especially those living in brown and Black communities. Instead, it empowers law enforcement by allowing them to continue to evade accountability for abuse and misconduct while forcing the burden on the public."
Sheila Oliver, New Jersey Assemblywoman said the bill is about prepping kids for their interactions with police. “The number of police related shootings around the nation have created a mistrust of police in many communities. This can help rebuild the trust that is essential for law enforcement to work. This is a lesson many parents already teach to their children. Making it part of the school curriculum is the next logical step.”
Similar bills have been proposed across other states including Texas. The ACLU of New Jersey is watching a number of similar legislative bills in relation to civilian interaction with the police.
But with numerous cases of police brutality, where many victims followed proper protocol while encountering officers, it's hard to believe that teaching kids — especially brown and black children — how to speak to officers will prevent them from experiencing violence and in the most serious cases, death.