Four civil rights groups met this week to discuss concerns regarding current efforts in Congress and by the Trump administration to increase school security.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Advancement Project, the National Disability Rights Network and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund hosted a telephone press briefing Monday to discuss why they believe placing police officers in schools will not address the nation’s gun violence epidemic, according to their press release.
“The solutions currently under consideration in the U.S. Department of Justice and Congress are the wrong approach to a very serious problem. Federal dollars for more police in schools, metal detectors, and anonymous hotlines to report students who may be in crisis will do nothing to stop gun violence and undermine the learning environment,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president of policy for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “We need real solutions to the epidemic of gun violence in our society, like increasing safety restrictions and limitations on gun purchases. That is what is going to keep all of us safe.”
The groups also discussed how militarizing schools will harm and further criminalize children of color and children with disabilities.
Racial justice and disability groups have long been concerned that police presence in schools can lead to overly punitive discipline and higher arrest rates for black and Hispanic students, according to Education Week.
Some debate does remain regarding what drives the differences, including treatment by schools, differences in student behavior and overreliance on police in some schools.
“School police and school safety are not synonymous. Arming teachers and investing in more school police is a recipe for deadly mistakes. Children of color will be hurt the most by criminalization, and undocumented youth may face deportation due to the deputization of police to ICE in some states,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project’s national office. “This is not the answer to keeping young people safe. The solutions are the strategies students called for during national walkouts last week: more counselors, mental health professionals and student supports.”
The National Association of School Resource Officers has previously stated that officers should stay out of routine school discipline. However, some civil rights groups say not all school police officers are receiving training on conflict de-escalation and mental health.
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