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Government & Politics

Ohio community-police collaborative considers phasing out the word 'juvenile'

boy looking from behind a fence
The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board is considering changing the way police departments can use the words "youth" and "juvenile" in police reports. Some members of the board say the terms have negative connotations.

The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board establishes standards for police departments. The statewide police advisory board has been working for more than a year on new standards for how police should engage with people under 18.

One item under consideration is what language police should use to refer to young people. In their most recent meeting in February, members discussed the possible negative connotation of the word juvenile.

Ohio Collaborative board member and professor of Urban Studies at Cleveland State, Dr. Ronnie A. Dunn said, “'Juvenile delinquent,' I know that when I was coming up, that's what readily came to mind whenever you would hear the use of the term juvenile. So we suggested referring to them as youth to always make sure that we understand that this population that we’re dealing with requires special care.”

Another board member, Dublin Chief of Police Justin Páez, said he appreciates that the word juvenile has a negative connotation but that it should be phased out slowly because it’s commonly used in law enforcement today.

While the board did not come to an official agreement on the language issue last month, they will meet again in May.
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