Angela Davis talks police on schools campuses. I will discuss the possible reasons why the school systems are militarizing their security, for example: school shootings, acts of terrorism or race issues. I also want to discuss if intense security truly insures safety or if it causes another problem. Intense school policing may be a large factor in the school-to-prison pipeline. If SROs (school resource officers) have a connection to the increasing rate of incarceration in prisons then its important to find a better solution to ensure the safety of the students rather than putting them in a hostile environment.
The increase of violence such as shootings, acts of terrorism, and crimes/misdemeanors at schools, raises a demand of security and protection from the police in schools. Every school wants to provide a safe and healthy learning environment from students to succeed in their studies;however, the increase of SROs (school resource officers) on school campuses disturbs the students safe environment replacing it with a hostile one, which establishes a negative relationship between students and the law enforcement, by criminalizing students.
With the increase of arrest on school campuses, the goal to establish a positive relationship with students seems unlikely. More schools are hiring more SROs, becoming an important role in school safety. In Police presence powers up: school resource officers build relationships with students to help prevent violence: Part 2 in a two-part series, Alison DeNisco says that SROs keep halls safe for students to walk in and help students develop a positive relationship with law enforcement. DeNisco says that an SROs daily duties is ensuring safety, and mentoring students. In Schools under Surveillance Cultures of Control in Public Education(27), Torin Monahan and Rodolfo D. Torres state some of the benefits in having SROs. Such as helping the school administration decipher whether certain situation should involve law officers and dealing with these situations. However, as more arrests are made with SROs on school campuses than there are without SROs. In Do Police Officers in Schools really make them safe? Cheryl Corley spoke with a former high school student, Antonio Magic, discussing his interactions with the SROs in his school. Antonio Magic said that he was arrested by SROs three time times one of which for talking back to a teacher and starting a walkout. "The only time I seen police interacting with students was when students were being arrested." says Antonio Magic. Another student Corley spoke with was Amina Henderson, who was handcuffed in her principals office and charged for aggravated assault when she and her fellow students were performing a peace circle, the charges were fortunately dropped but Henderson. Reinforcing a positive outlook towards law enforcement is important to relieve tension civilians have towards police officers and establishes trust, however if students only see officers as only school enforcers then hostility builds up, ruining the sense of safety and trust civilians should have with police.
Dealing with troublesome students correctly, can have an important role in preventing students from entering the criminal justice system. Suspensions, expulsions and arrests on school grounds are likely to dropout of school and receive less opportunities for jobs and housing, often excluded students from school. Angela Davis in her Freedom is a constant struggle questions why many of the inmates are illiterate and states that something must be done with the education system (23). Often times, troublesome students are suspended, expelled or arrested on school grounds and are often labeled as a disruption. School do these to separate the disruption from the other students give the them more attention in class. In Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline: tools for change, Jason P Nance argues that this way of dealing troublesome students contributes to the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Nance stated that student who are excluded from school are discouraged from attending their school and disrupt class. If students feel discouraged to attend classes, they get left behind on their studies, increasing their discouragement to finally dropping out. Nance suggests that a better approach in dealing with students is to cover the root of their misbehavior and offer them counseling to work out their behavioral issues.
Schools that stigmatize mental health don't take the right approach in handling disruptive students and often result in punishing the student for their actions rather than getting the root of the problem. Students with mental health issues feel unsafe in schools especially with the increase of police on campus. In her book Freedom is a constant struggle Angela Davis briefly suggests that mental health should be discussed more to decrease the disproportionate amount of inmates that suffer from mental health issues (24). Schools are good starting points in rehabilitating students from mental health and ensuring a safe and supportive environment for them. Students are often criminalized and arrested by minor infractions from normal teenage behavior, students would have a better experiences in school if time and effort is taken on understanding their behavior and supporting them to achieve more in school. In Understanding the Discouraged Child Within the School System: An Adlerian View of the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Jennifer M. Emmons and Susan E. Belangee analyze Adlerian psychology regarding causes mental health illnesses and methods in preventing mentally disabled youth from entering the criminal justice system. Rudolf Dreikurs and Alfred Adler discuss the effects of separating a child from others, leaving the child to feel inferior and results to more misbehavior (qtd. In Emmons and Belangee 140). Adler's theory suggest that more schools should focus on students and increase resources in schools such as councilors and training teachers to properly handle a troublesome student that may suffer from mental health issues. Teachers, who feel as if they are incapable of handling a troublesome student often call for school security or SROs, which decreases students' sense of safety and involves more students into the juvenile justice system.
Schools with SROs are often pressured to install technological surveillance such as metal detectors and cameras, which alienates students and causes a sense of distrust with the students. School that use cameras for surveillance purposes serves a constant reminder to students that their actions and behavior are monitored, which can be for good use and doesn't necessarily interrupt students' education. However cameras provide evidence to suspend, expel or arrest students for minor infractions.
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