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There is no easy answer about having a police presence in schools. To make such decisions for a school, someone must ensure that students and their families are appropriately represented. Some of Chicago’s K-12 public schools lack proper representation to make good choices for their students, whereas others have none.
Perhaps the decision about the necessity of police presence is necessary should be made by a group of individuals that understand a particular school’s needs. The group should include school administration, teachers, students, parents, and affected community members.
Policing policies were put in place generations ago. These were established when white men were hired to track down runaway slaves. Unfortunately, modern police departments continue to allow racial discrimination and imprisonment for lawbreakers. Should officers who are trained to handle adults be the ones to keep young students safe in schools?
There are endless reports of officers using excessive force on children, the same way they treat adults on the streets. Children have been seriously injured from officers tossing them around like a “ragdoll.” Some have even been slammed into walls or desks, put into chokeholds, and have had broken bones by officers’ willingness to overreact and over pursue. Excessive policing is normal in Black and brown communities is normal. Unfortunately, the behavior does not change when it comes to policing children.
Should children, who are known to be less mentally and physically stable than adults, be exposed to the same harassing and aggressive procedures used by officers dealing with adults in the streets?
The same legislators who continue to allow citizen mistreatment by the police in the streets also control the resources and how they are spent in school districts. There is no coincidence that minority schools are more neglected and are less funded than rural areas.
Black and brown school communities continue to be underfunded and underrepresented. Whereas suburban schools have money and representation, they can easily decide whether to keep both officers, keep none, or keep an officer and run an alternative program. All schools deserve to be treated equally and have the option to consider hiring more counselors, an at-risk coordinator, and or a restorative justice program that offers resources for their students.
Written by Darryl Robinson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
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Images Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License