When a child witnesses the arrest of a loved one, it makes a big impression. Many times children become fearful of law enforcement, and this impacts every area of their life.
In Extended Family for Kids (EFK) students learn how to overcome this fear.
"We begin our COPS! Lesson by asking students to write questions they would ask a police officer on colored strips of paper. No names go on the paper, just questions. All of these strips go into our Question Box," reported Laure Clemons, Extended Family Executive Director.
Then students are told they have a special guest. A law enforcement officer is waiting in the office just to speak with their EFK Group. The officer will tell a little about themselves and then answer questions the EFK Leader pulls from the Question Box.
"At this point our students get pretty nervous," Clemons said. "Most of them have seen their parents arrested, and it was a scary event. They are not so sure this guest is very special!"
Since 2014, Cherokee County law enforcement from area police departments and Sheriff’s Department have made time to meet with EFK Groups and answer their questions.
Common questions include:
"Why do you arrest parents in front of their kids?" Answer - "We don't like to do that, because we don't want you to have to see that happen. So we try to get parents to step outside, or wait until kids are not around."
"Does it make you sad to arrest people?" Answer – "It depends. If I’ve caught someone who is hurting children then no, it does not make me sad. But sometimes I have to arrest someone who keeps making bad decisions because of drugs, and that does make me sad."
"Do you get scared?" Answer- "Sure I do! I’m human, just like you. Everyone gets scared sometimes."
"Why do you eat so many donuts?" Answer – "Because they are good! Don’t you like donuts?"
Officers have positive things to say about the experience too. In a recent Extended Family Law Enforcement Survey, officers said: