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Big Brothers Big Sisters of NW Ohio respond to Chauvin trial, encourage more exposure to youth

The organization provides programs for youth to connect with law enforcement, eliminating implicit bias
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 6:37 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The team at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Ohio say the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis gave them hope for accountability and an example to share with their youth, that when someone does something wrong, they will be removed from the system and no longer a threat.

They are working hard to provide programs to connect youth with law enforcement and beyond to eliminate the implicit bias and establish reform that they say starts with exposure.

Dr. Marvin Whitfield, President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Ohio, said there are two problems within the system – racism and implicit bias. Racism, he believes, is easier to identify and remove. However, implicit bias is dangerous because it’s unconscious and doesn’t expose itself until being put in stressful situations, which results in negative consequences on how youth view the police as well.

“When youth see this, they’re developing implicit bias against police, which can have devastating consequences, such as failure to call when need to support. They may become defensive when they interact and become aggressive in their defensive posture, which officers may see as a threat,” Dr. Whitfield said.

The team says by exposing youth to law enforcement and other public professionals in their yearlong mentoring programs, “Bigs with Badges,” and “Bigs with Blues,” both groups have the chance to get to know each other to eliminate biases that form as young as 2 years old.

“And the goal is to, hopefully when the youth go back to their friends and family and someone says, ‘Oh, all officers are bad,’ they go, ‘No, my Big Brother and Big Sister is not, they help me,’” Dr. Whitfield said. “And same thing with officers, because I could only imagine being a white officer who’s never worked in an innercity or a prominent black community, and if it’s all negative, what do you expect?”

For more information on these programs, go to: https://www.bbbsnwo.org/

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