A new children’s book on police brutality helps parents explain some really hard truths to kids

May 1, 2017

At some point, many parents raising a child of color—especially of that child is black—have had to think about “the talk.” Not the sex talk, but the talk about how to behave if a police officer stops you. Police brutality is never an easy thing to talk with about children, but now that social media and smartphone videos bring it even closer to home, this talk is likely happening in homes way earlier than it once did. Which is why Sanya Gragg wrote a children’s book about police brutality to help parents.

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At some point, many parents raising a child of color—especially of that child is black—have had to think about “the talk.” Not the sex talk, but the talk about how to behave if a police officer stops you. Police brutality is never an easy thing to talk with about children, but now that social media and smartphone videos bring it even closer to home, this talk is likely happening in homes way earlier than it once did. Which is why Sanya Gragg wrote a children’s book about police brutality to help parents.

Gragg is a former social worker and mother from Tennessee who was rightly heartbroken after the police killed Terence Crutcher last September. She had been considering the book for some time, but this was the final straw.

Gragg told The Huffington Post, “The most difficult part for me is knowing my sons and yours can do everything right and still end up in a tragic situation. That just makes me really sad.”

Every time a black person ends up dead at the hands of police officers, Gragg thinks about all the families having “the talk.” She said:

“I think [that] because of social media and our children’s access to it, this conversation is happening much sooner. What used to be a concern once our children started driving is now a concern if they are just walking down the street. I think this book can really help with the introduction of this topic.”

In the book, she outlines the five things black children (and grown ups) should do when they’re stopped by an officer. She created a mnemonic device for “ALIVE,” as in, “come home alive.”

The five things are:

A

Always use your manners

L

Listen and comply

I

In control of your emotions

V

Visible hands always

E

Explain everything

Gragg said, “I definitely want everybody to ‘Memorize the five!’ I think even adults who have been driving for years may get anxious if pulled over. This just gives a quick mental checklist to help you come home alive.”

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