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Justin Sybron discuses his encounters with injustice.

Teens Talk About Encounters with Police Violence & Injustice

June 10, 2020

Teens Talk About Encounters with Police Violence & Injustice

American teens discuss their experiences with police violence and racial injustice with PBS NewsHour Extra's Student Reporting Labs.


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*Trigger Warning: Some users my find this content disturbing.

Police Violence & Injustice: Exploring The Student Experience

Read the summary below and watch the videos produced for PBS NewsHour’s recent Race Matters special. After each video, provide a two-minute freewrite, allowing students to share their reactions, then answer the discussion questions and check out the extension activity which gives students an opportunity to share their voices over social media. 

As protests over the death of George Floyd continue, two teenagers shared their stories of racial injustice with Student Reporting Labs, NewsHour’s youth journalism program.

  • In the first video (below), Kailynn Pratt tells us about her experiences protesting over George Floyd’s death in Detroit and the police violence she encountered.
  • In the second video, Justin Sybron discusses his first encounter with injustice. In third grade a group of older white boys physically attacked him and his school failed to protect him.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions: Police Violence and Youth

  1. Essential questions: What duty do police officers have to citizens when one of their own abuses power? What duty do citizens have when a governmental institution abuses power?
  2. Protests are a time when people gather together for their voices to be heard; however, according to Kailynn, this visibility also made her the target of the arresting police officer who said he’d “seen [her] — [she] was talking the most.” How is visibility both empowering and dangerous to black protesters?
  3. What duty should police officers have to the safety and well-being of those they arrest?
  4. Media literacy: When you watch the news, do you see more stories about police violence or about protesters looting? Why do you think that is?

Video Two:  Justin Sybron

Remote video URL
Key Terms: 

Socialize → to teach [someone] to behave in a certain way in accordance with a society 
Normalization → the process by which something comes to be regarded as “normal” 

Discussion Questions: Exploring Injustice

  1. Essential question: How might America’s history of systemic racism affect young people of color as they get older?
  2. How do people become socialized to accept or normalize incidents of racial violence?
  3. What roles can an institution play (i.e. a school administration, local government, local news) in making injustice better or worse? In the video we watched, how might institutions have contributed to what happened to Justin?
  4. Media literacy: How do personal testimonials like this affect your understanding of the story? Would this story have been more or less powerful for you if it were in a different format (for example, a conventional newscast)?

Extension Activity: Share Your Own Story

Remote video URL


  1. Watch the Student Reporting Labs video, “Young people respond to racism in America.” Reflect on the voices in the video and your own experience. Do you remember when you first became aware of your race?
  2. Write a paragraph of what you would say if you were in this video. Feel free to create your own prompt, or consider one of these questions:
    • What is one word to describe how you feel when you watch the news about George Floyd’s death?
    • Why did you pick that word?
    • What was your first encounter with racial injustice?
    • What do you wish people understood about _______?
  3. Go to a private space and record yourself reading your own testimonial.
  4. Reconvene and share with your class, a friend or a family member.
  5. Media literacy: How does a video of yourself speaking communicate differently than a written paragraph? Which medium was more difficult for you to work with? Which do you think was more persuasive?
  6. Share your testimonial with us @newshourextra on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook

Read the original article.

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