For the Local Police of Antwerp, interactions with young people form a serious challenge. For example, the age group between 12 and 25 has a rather negative idea of the police. On the bright side, that means there is an educational opportunity, too. The local police are in a unique position to work on positive and constructive interactions with youngsters.
With a little bit of help, they would even be able to take on the role of influencer. In this case not through Instagram, but through young people’s (first) contact with police-related issues – in school, neighborhood, or a social service setting – and the circumstances or nature of this contact.
The importance of access and interaction
Q: How do you inform an entire generation of youngsters about the police and their operations?
A: You find the right partner in crime (it’s a good thing our puns are not breaking the law).
How did we do this? Well, we helped to develop and maintain a better relationship between the police and youth. On the one hand, we focused on youngsters in socially vulnerable situations. On the other hand, we wanted to improve general contact with the police through targeted communication. Why? Because we noticed a lack of adapted and appropriate information for young people.
A missed opportunity in these times of unlimited access to (social) media and information channels. Young people investigate – let’s use some jargon here – law enforcement. And compared to older generations, they have a broader background and more experiences. By the time they become adults, they have met a lot of people with different thoughts – often online. So, what they need is clear information, fast and interactively.
Listening and providing to young minds
We’re pretty young too, but we still decided to organize workshops and interviews with the target audience. This way, we could gather their most frequently asked questions.
These questions – and the answers! – formed the basis for an awareness campaign, which consisted of a social media campaign and the ‘Mag da?’ website. Through this platform, young people can find a lot of information about the police and have the opportunity to ask questions.
Still not lovin’ police?
The website www.magdapolitie.be received hundreds of questions from youngsters, asking for insights on their specific rights and duties. So far, the campaign really improved the relationship between the two parties, increased mutual understanding and respect, and opened up a dialogue. Mission accomplished!