Police in schools have a huge effect on black children


Police presence in schools actively jeopardizes the safety of black students compared to their counterparts of other races, according to a report posted this month.

Black students were subject to more than 80% of incidents of police violence counted in the survey, which analyzed more than 285 incidents over a decade. At least 60% of police assaults on students resulted in serious injuries to students, including broken bones, concussions, and hospitalizations. The report also cited 24 cases of sexual assault on students and five student deaths as a result of police force in schools. It was published by the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization, and the Alliance for Educational Justice, a coalition of groups working for equity in public schools.

“It’s not just the fact that school policing is ineffective and a huge waste of public funds. It is also detrimental to the physical and emotional health and safety of students of color across America,” said Tyler Whittenberg, deputy director of the Advancement Project.

The groups collected all identifiable incidents of police violence reported in schools between 2011 and 2021, but the organizations acknowledge their data is likely based on an undercount.

The report is titled “#AssaultAtSpringValley, after a 16-year-old black girl attending Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina was headlocked and flipped over on her desk, then dragged and they threw it across their classroom. police officer in 2015. It was in response to allegations that she was being disruptive and refusing to hand over her phone and leave the classroom.

The school district fired the officer; two years later, a Justice Department investigation determined that there was insufficient evidence to bring federal charges.

A police officer appears to punch a student at a South Carolina high school in a still image from cellphone video.via NBC News

Niya Kenny, a Spring Valley alumnus, was 18 when she saw her classmate being dragged away. She encouraged other students to record the incident and was later arrested and charged with disrupting a school. The charges were dropped, but she never returned to high school, opting instead to earn her general equivalency diploma.

“I remember not wanting to go back to Spring Valley,” Kenny said. “I was confused, bewildered and terrified why a police officer was using such force on a young student.”

Janel George, director of the Racial Equity in Education Law and Policy Clinic at Georgetown Law School, said it is difficult for students who experience and witness policing in schools to re-engage in the classroom. .

Whittenberg said: “In general, black students are often seen as the problem and need some form of disciplinary treatment in order to act properly. It is absolute racism that we can now quantify with studies like this.”

Police violence at school is much more likely to specifically affect black girls. Black girls are four times as likely to be arrested as their white peers, three times as likely to be referred to police and twice as likely to be physically restrained, according to the report.

A heavy police presence has also been linked to school-to-prison pipeline, which refers to policies and practices that indirectly push students into the criminal legal system, including harsh and strict punishments such as arrest and expulsion.

“When you go to schools where you are seen as a threat and are attacked by police officers as you walk to and from your classes, what else would you take away from that other than that this system really isn’t for me?” Whittenberg said.

He said suspensions and expulsions alienate students from their peers and steer them away from prosocial relationships.

Whittenberg said the use of police officers in schools that primarily serve communities of color creates the idea that students of color need to be controlled and dominated in order to act properly.

The report also revealed that officers generally face little to no consequences for assaulting students. In the 10% of cases where officers faced consequences for assaulting students, dismissals or criminal charges were rare. Instead, they typically only faced internal reviews or reassignments or being placed on leave.

“That’s not surprising, because, unfortunately, this has been going on for so long, and research has long shown how disproportionately black students are targeted for this type of surveillance,” said George, who once worked for reform discriminatory school discipline practices. in the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Whittenberg said he hopes the report sparks a change in the conversation about pulling police out of schools.

“I hope this report can be used to show that this is not a one-off incident and that it is actually a systemic problem that will continue to occur as long as police are present in schools,” he said, “especially those schools that serve Blacks and other students of color”. Follow NBCBLK on Facebook, Twitter Y instagram.

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