“The US schools with their own police” reads the title in a Guardian story from January 9. As it turns out, the article goes on to focus not on the police presence in US schools, but in the state of Texas, with a passing reference to California and Florida.
So the title is a bit misleading, but what does the story have to say about Texas, a state where it is common knowledge that every day hundreds of students have to make a court appearance because of school-related offences such as swearing, disrupting class, misbehaving on the school bus and smoking cigarettes?
300,000 “Class C misdemeanor” Tickets Issued In 2010 In Texas
As The Guardian explains:
In 2010, the police gave close to 300,000 “Class C misdemeanour” tickets to children as young as six in Texas for offences in and out of school, which result in fines, community service and even prison time. What was once handled with a telling-off by the teacher or a call to parents can now result in arrest and a record that may cost a young person a place in college or a job years later.
“It’s very much tied in with some of the hyperbole around the rise in juvenile crime rate that took place back in the early 90s,” said Deborah Fowler, deputy director of Texas Appleseed, an Austin legal rights group, and principal author of a 200-page study of the consequences of policing in Texas schools. “They ushered in tough, punitive policies. It was all part of the tough-on-crime movement.”
As a result, the number of school districts in the state with police departments has risen more than 20-fold over the past two decades.
Reaction To Columbine Massacre
After the 1999 Columbine high school massacre, parents demanded protection for their children, and that’s when zero tolerance policies came into their own. Unfortunately, that sometimes meant following the letter of the law strictly without stopping to consider individual circumstances.
There was this story, about a seventh grader arrested for writing on her desk, and this one, about 9-year-old twins suspended for their “gang’ haircuts. Obviously, these are ludicrous over-enforcements of a policy that was created with the best of intentions.
But there is another side to this discussion.
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