Broken Windows, Broken Youth: The Effect of Law Enforcement on non-White Male Development

How do intensive policing practices affect adolescent boys’ anti-social behaviors? Do these policies differ across racial lines?

An increasing number of municipal law enforcement agencies have adopted a “Broken Windows” model of policing in which patrol officers are instructed to aggressively police minor infractions (e.g., littering, jaywalking, vandalism) in the hopes of preventing future violent crimes. Young men of color are frequently the targets of these programs, as they are disproportionately responsible for minor offenses. Goff will examine the effects of “Broken Windows” policing on black, white, and Latino high-school aged males in similar (economically and demographically) neighborhoods within the same school districts in San Jose, Denver, Houston, and Virginia Beach. He intends to study adolescent behavioral outcomes such as aggression, violence, and criminality both in school and on the streets, particularly focusing on the quality and quantity of police contacts a young man has experienced and their expectations and goals for the future. Data from youth will be collected using surveys, computer tasks, and interviews. Data will also be collected from parents, schools, and police agencies. Measures of adolescent autonomy, legal socialization, defiance, masculine self-concept, and racial identity will also be used. Goff will track the racial attitudes and behaviors of patrol officers, using official records of individual officer contacts, stops, complaint, and use of force history, as well as surveys, computer tasks, interviews, and psychological tests.

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