Catch & Stun

The Use and Abuse of Conducted Electrical Weapons on Children and Youth

Posted January 11, 2022
By Strategies for Youth
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This report examines law enforcement’s use of Conducted Electrical Weapons — also known as “stun guns” or “tasers” — on children and adolescents. It summarizes the history of tasers, their original intent, the training provided to law enforcement agencies that purchase them and the circumstances surrounding their growing use by police forces across the United States since the 1990s.

The document uses case studies, research summaries and an evolving database of lawsuits to document how tasers have been deployed by police against young people. It shares research on the physical and emotional toll of taser use and how these weapons can impact young people’s developing brains, psyches and bodies.

Readers will learn about federal cases brought on behalf of youth who have been tased and how the courts have generally treated these incidents. The report also reviews examples of taser use policies held by major law enforcement agencies and offers advice to leaders and decision makers on reducing the physical and psychological impact of tasing young people.

The publication’s authors call for closely regulating and monitoring the use of tasers on young people as well as mandatory reviews every time an officer tases an individual under the age of 21. The authors argue that dramatically reducing taser use against children and adolescents must fit within a broader by police that supports developmentally appropriate, racially equitable and trauma-informed approaches to policing of young people.

Catch & Stun Report and Resources

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Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

The expert advice? Ban tasers in almost all instances involving children and teens

This report offers clear recommendations aimed at reducing the threat of police tasering against young people. Leveraging feedback and input from litigators, psychologists, doctors and law enforcement experts, the report recommends banning police tasering of children or teens in almost all circumstances. It advises members of law enforcement to use tasers only as a last resort — when public safety is at imminent risk and individuals are facing serious physical threats. It also calls for police to reorient more broadly and to embrace more developmentally appropriate, racially equitable and trauma-informed approaches for policing youth.