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Building Strong Community Foundations for Children & Youth

Developed by the South Fraser Valley Regional Child & Youth Committee in partnership with Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives Association

About the 40 Developmental Assets

Asset Building

Asset Building

The Fraser
Region Project



Police as Asset Builders

What you can do to make a difference in the lives of children and youth


As a police officer, there is an obligation to create a safe environment for all community members. This can become complicated when you encounter someone who is creating a disturbance which needs to be address it for the safety of others, yet that individual’s safety and care also has to be considered. Interactions with children and youth should be highly valued and taken as an opportunity to enhance the wellness of that child or youth. The following are ways in which police officers of all capacities can achieve this objective.



Photo: Mike Cooper, Morguefile


Find ways of solving problems with children and youth in your community in ways that prevent them from having to spend time in detention or jail. Offer them guidance when they are caught breaking the law.

Talk with children or youth whom you catch breaking the law. Show them that you are concerned about their well-being and that you want to help them from making this mistake in the future.

Remain mindful about the realities of some children and youth’s lives and shortcomings. Not everyone is born with the same opportunities in life and have provided with the healthy environment needed to be able to make healthy choices.

Volunteer to visit schools and talk to classes about the importance of building Assets in their lives.

Think of your role in the community as maintaining community “wellness” as opposed to safety. Try to minimize the notion the communities have to be protected from “bad people” and think in terms of sustaining the wellness of your community.


Encourage youth you encounter to join a volunteer group within your organization. Provide them with contact information about who they need to talk with to get involved.

Example: Offer them ways to volunteer with events that your organization is putting together for children and youth.

Work with youth committees to learn about what it important for youth in the community. Create ways to connect your police organization to youth committees so they can work on projects together.


When working with children and youth on projects or events, provide them with choices.


Support youth centres, parks, or recreation areas that children and youth like to use. It is important that youth feel their presence is valued and not constantly seen as a disturbance.

Example: Support popular areas that children and youth like to hang out at. If you are called to an area where youth are hanging out, be open to allowing them to stay there while addressing the issue at hand. Pushing them out of one area will only force them to go somewhere else to hang out.

Make proactive policing initiatives a priority, as opposed to reactive approaches. While administering programs or initiatives, be conscious and fully aware of your methods of interacting with the children and youth.

Example: D.A.R.E, positive ticketing, liaison officers engaging with youth, out-of-uniform interactions with youth, etc.


Be consistent in holding people accountable to the laws. Also be consistent in administering the consequences for those laws.


Have high expectations of all children and youth in your community. Expect the best from everyone with whom you interact.


Be a role model for all children and youth, particularly ones that you know lack support in their lives. You are an authority figure in the community and many children and youth will look up to you.


Offer praise to children and youth that achieve new things. Have limitless expectations for what children and youth can do.

Example: Praise children and youth when you see them score a point in a game at the park, or do a new trick on their bike or skateboard.


Spend time getting to know people in your community and neighborhoods. Attend social events that promote positive youth development so that people recognize that you care about the children and youth in your community.


Recruit youth to spend time driving with you on patrol duty so they can experience what it is like as a police officer. Take this time to get to know the youth and connect with them.


Be involved in different committees and groups, to learn ways that you as a police officer can be actively involved in Building Assets with children and youth in your community.

Examples: Be a part of the Child and Youth committee to learn about what is happening for children and youth in your communities.
Volunteer at a youth drop-in center when off duty to get to know the youth and children in your neighborhood.


Learn about the 40 Developmental Assets and talk to your colleagues about the value of practicing the Asset Framework.


When you have to arrest a youth, work to understand the circumstances under which this individual made the choices that resulted in their arrest.


Have information easily available that you can provide to children and youth with whom you interact.

Example: Have pamphlets in your patrol car that give information about drug use and services, alcohol use and services, services for women’s safe houses, or anti-gang information.

Spend time walking the streets and learning about the community in which you. Have a good idea about the strengths of the community and find ways that you can make these areas even stronger.


Have resources available at the department for police officers to learn more about Asset Building so they can practice and promote the values to the children and youth that they encounter.



Model values that are important in your community.

Example: Non-violent communication, how to be non-judgmental, respect for all people, the right to freedom of expression, honesty, integrity, etc.

Hand out “positive tickets” to children and youth that are doing good things in the community.

Example: Give out free passes to the swimming pool, ice skating, to the movies, or laser tag. Have coupons for free ice cream or burgers from local restaurants.

Honor people who demonstrate honesty. Recognize when a child or youth is honest, and publicly praise them for it.


Have youth take responsibility for their actions in meaningful ways. Refrain from having them feel shamed. Promote ways of teaching children and youth meaningful lessons from their actions.


Example: Assist a youth in completing community service hours that are meaningful to the youth, as opposed a task such as picking up garbage for a crime that had nothing to do with littering! 


Support multiculturalism and the acceptance of all people.

Example: Have your organization support and recognize all holidays for all the cultures and ethnicities that are prominent in your community.

Always aim to resolve conflict in the most peaceful manner possible. Practice non-violence skills and offer to teach these skills to children and youth when you can.

Example: Have police officers who are trained in conflict resolution teach those skills to students in local schools.

Give classroom talks about important social issues that young people often encounter. Discuss ways they can deal with issues they are likely to come across. Talk about the positive reasons why people don’t engage in those activities; mention the negative but focus on the positive.

Example: Bullying, drug and alcohol use, violence, criminal activity, and others.


Be someone that youth and children feel they can talk to when they are going through hard times. Let them get to know you beyond your uniform, and get to know them beyond their age. Build respect and trust so that when they need someone to talk to, they feel comfortable sharing their problems with you.


Be attentive to negative peer pressure among children and youth when you notice it taking place. Be quick to stop it and support the individual who is experiencing the pressure.


Be open to talking with youth about your own experiences in dealing with peer pressure. Allow them to see you as a youth once-upon-a-time as well. This will help them connect to you on a new level.


Offer to resolve conflict in the most peaceful and effective way possible when mediating a dispute between youth. Offer them opportunities to solve the problem in a non-violent and resolution-based fashion.

Example: Provide resources for youth to go through a mediation process, as opposed to being charged and going through the court system.  


 Say hello to children and youth that you pass in the street or in the schools. Learn the names of children and youth in your community and call them by name when you see them.


Ask children and youth for their opinions on important issues. Show them that you are very interested in what they have to say.


Listen actively.


Pursue conversations with children and youth about their dreams and goals in life. Talk with them about why it is important for them to have those dreams and goals. 

Example: When a child or youth talks about what they would love to be when they grow up, ask them open-ended questions about it. Genuinely engage in conversation with them and show interest in what they are saying to you.

Adapted from Pass It On! Ready To Use Handouts for Asset Builders, ©1999 by The Search Institute, and from Helping Kids Succeed—Alaskan Style, ©2004 by Alaska Initiative for Community Engagement