Recent deaths of young minority men in police interactions have highlighted longstanding tensions between police and those they serve. Contemporary urban youth are heavily policed, many as early as pre-adolescence. This policing is characterized by significant racial disparities, with black teens reporting more, and more intrusive experiences. A long history, and growing literature, suggests that police encounters may vary not only by race, but by complexion. We examine skin tone disparities in police contact among a population-based sample of over 1,000 teens from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. We observe a nearly monotonic increase with skin tone darkness in the probability that adolescents report contact with the police. Among those reporting stops, darker-skinned teens also report more intrusive experiences. Preliminary within-race analyses suggest skin-tone gradients in stop prevalence among black and Hispanic teens, but not white or multiracial teens. Subsequent analyses will examine within-race disparities in greater detail.
Presented in Session 143. Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Incarceration