Children's Rights Litigation

Preventing Strip Searches of Children and Youth

A Guide for Advocates

Information is up to date as of March, 2021

These tools were created by the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation. Thank you to everyone who contributed to these toolkits, including the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Juvenile Law Center.

These toolkits are designed to assist individuals and organizations in their advocacy for legislation and regulations to prohibit the strip searches of children and youth except in the most exceptional situations. We often think of strip searches being something that happens only in correctional facilities like juvenile detention centers. But today, children and youth are unnecessarily strip searched in many other settings, including immigration detention centers, schools, residential facilities for “troubled teens,” before visits to incarcerated family members in correctional facilities, and by child protective services workers as part of child welfare investigations. Strip searches cause trauma that can have life-long consequences. For that reason, in 2020 the American Bar Association adopted a resolution that urges governments to enact policies to limit strip searches of children and youth to only those situations where certain enumerated requirements are met. These guides provide background research, talking points, and model language that can be used to enact statutes, regulations, and contract provisions that govern child-serving agencies and facilities so that fewer children and youth will be subjected to this demeaning and dehumanizing practice.

ABA Resolution Prohibiting Strip Searches of Children and Youth, Except in Exceptional Circumstances

National Strip Search Tool Kit

State specific tool kits:

More state toolkits will be posted in the coming months.