Because you have had your driver’s license for more than a few years, you probably have dealt with at least one traffic stop. These stops can be hard on your emotional state, as you must face both police authority and the possibility of an expensive citation or even an arrest.
Put simply, it is perfectly normal to feel some anxiety when interacting with the police. If you have a teenager in your family, though, you should expect his or her mental health to take a harder hit. That is, your teen is likely to have some potentially serious psychological distress.
Disengagement from school
According to a recent study from the American Psychological Association, teens are likely to disengage from school after police stops. Specifically, these individuals tended to skip school or lose focus. These behaviors, of course, may cause a routine traffic stop to have substantial collateral consequences.
Anxiety and depression
The APA study reveals another alarming fact. Specifically, teens who interact with the police are at increased risk for both anxiety and depression in the weeks and months after a stop. This is likely due to the emotional changes adolescents experience during their teenage years. Those who are members of minority groups are even more vulnerable.
Your action plan
To ensure your child continues to have good mental health, it is important to monitor him or her after any interactions with the police. Because your teen may not tell you about a stop, watching for an uptick in anxiety or depression is also critical.
Ultimately, if your child is struggling to cope with a police stop, you may need to help him or her connect with a family counselor or therapist.