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The media portrayal of the relationship between juveniles and police are not accurate, in my professional opinion. The media often portrays the bad that occurs, even as it relates to juvenile crime and involvement with police. This, I feel is more national media, but how the national media goes, so the local media follows it seems. Even though I think the portrayal isn’t accurate or reflect the relationship we have, it does help us build that relationship, at least to me and my agency. The media utilizes many approaches when reporting but none has the effect or draw as stories that draw out emotions in the audience. Focusing on emotionally driven stories and feeding that emotion to the masses is a way for higher viewership, increased sales and a way to sway the public toward a goal or decision.Just about every couple year’s a story is covered nationally which spurs the local media to pick up and do a local story that builds off that national story, or parents that then see it and call police to say how horrible law enforcement is and they hope we do training so it doesn’t happen here. The type of story is the handling of an autistic or special needs student by law enforcement. The story usually results in the special needs or autistic child being arrested and how horrible the handling was and the media focuses on the cries of the child or the emotional interview with a parent. Recently the stories also include video as our society is quick to record almost anything that occurs.The story that I remember was the arrest of a 10-year-old in Florida in 2017 that was arrested, handcuffed and spent a night in jail. (Fox News 2017) The mother recorded the arrest and the emotional cries of her child are present in the video as well as her emotions in her interviews. After this story became national news, I received calls from our local media to comment on the story and also that parents had concerns over our ability to properly deal with autistic children.I would say this reflects a negative image of our relationships but that isn’t the type of relationship we have with our local youth. In this situation the media approaches local law enforcement to get a comment by local police on the handling of the situation by another agency. This does allow time to provide information to the media and the public on the training we provide our staff, especially our school resource officer, in dealing with autistic and special needs students. It also allows for us to brag about our working relationship with our local schools and the parents of our autistic children as well as the great relationship we have with our special needs and autistic children.We participate in meetings and planning/teaching sessions with our school partners, the parents and therapists/psychologists to ensure everyone reacts properly and deals with the child in the best possible way. We make sure our day time staff and school resource officers have frequent positive interactions with autistic children so the two know each other, feel comfortable with each other. We make sure triggers or issues the autistic child may face during the day are minimized and we don’t touch, grab or make statements that are seen as triggers or that escalate an outburst by the child should it occur. We have seen a great deal of success with this over the years and have reduced our involvement in these situations drastically by being proactive in this approach. Another benefit is that each time this type of media coverage or parental inquiry occurs we are reminded to update our policies and procedures and ensure any new staff is provided the needed training.They have on occasion covered a positive story about our proactive approach with youth, but it isn’t as “newsworthy” I guess so the good stories about law enforcement and our interaction with juveniles usually don’t go anywhere and if it doesn’t that is fine, we provide information such as this to our public at public gatherings and events so they understand the proactive approach we have with the school. We have learned we don’t need the media to paint the picture to our community of our involvement and relationship with our youth, we have other means to get that story and picture to the public. Social Media and public events speak greater about this than does the media.Fox News (2017, April 20). 10-year-old autistic boy arrested on school grounds for kicking educator. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/us/10-year-old-autistic-boy-arrested-on-school-grounds-for-kicking-educatorPurchase the answer to view it
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