When a child witnesses a parent’s arrest, it makes a deep and lasting impression, says Amanda Zelechoski, a Valparaiso University professor of psychology who also holds a law degree and researches the intersections of law and psychology.
Despite the considerable potential for trauma to children, few police departments provide officers with training or even instructions about what to do when arresting people — especially parents — in the presence of children.
Thanks in part to Professor Zelechoski, that’s changing in Pennsylvania. Professor Zelechoski is a consultant to the City of Philadelphia’s police department in the development of guidelines and training protocols to help minimize trauma to children whose parents or guardians are arrested. The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a bill that would require municipalities to promulgate such guidelines.
Professor Zelechoski, who participated in a two-day conference in Philadelphia at which experts discussed the problem, was quoted in a recent story in the Philadelphia Tribune.