The Newark Junior High has had less ‘violence’ now, during the two years without a police officer, than it had previously with the presence of a police officer…
In fact, I think we can conclude that ‘violence’ is the wrong word in this context. Newark Junior High is in fact a safe school. As I understand it as a parent, the 'violence' we are talking about consists of scuffles, shoving, occasional hair pulling, and at most, some fists flying. Not good, but not VIOLENCE.
Now it has been decided that, in spite of being a safe school, we need a police officer; not because, as originally stated in the City Council Agenda, Junior High has ‘increased violence’, that elicited ‘growing concern’ and need for ‘a strategy to combat these issues’; but because the police wants to present a positive image, give students a better understanding of the nature and function of law enforcement…and so on.
On one hand, it feels like the more grown-ups at schools, the better, but my fist choice would not be a police officer; it would be someone who is an expert on kids: a counselor, a psychologist, a teacher, a social worker, a school nurse…
I thought the SLO (School Liaison Officer) now approved, worth $ 50 000/ year for 3 years, would come all paid for by a grant. I looked around on the web and found one grant program (www.cops.usdoj.gov), but at least in this one, at least 25% of the money has to be paid locally. The City/ School District could hopefully clarify this and give us all the facts.
I am also trying to educate myself about the whole ‘police in schools’ thing (we don't do it in Sweden, but I hear some people have grown up with it here). But, the more I've read, so far, the more uneasy I get.
This is an example from John Hopkins Magazine, written by Editor Dale Keiger entitled ‘AN UNNECESSARY FORCE’ from 2002 (http://www.jhu.edu/jhumag/0902web/police.html):
Greenberg, formerly a cop in Howard County, Maryland, believes that a properly run SRO (Student Resource Officer) program can help resolve some problems in some schools, but says he’s opposed to putting officers in schools just for the sake of doing it: “It’s show-and-tell stuff that’s politically expedient and will have only a short-term effect at great expense both in dollars and in the emotional well-being of young people.
Says Greenberg, 'We're stripping kids in many schools of a sense of sanctuary. It would be different if we had well-researched police education programs in which police officers were presenting well-done curricula. But that is not what is going on. We are creating school safety problems and a school-safety industry. We're putting armed police officers in schools where theyserve as very expensive -easily $90,000 per full-time officer- security personnel. We're putting them in schools that never had a problem.
(This article above is actually a debate between two different view points, but you can read for yourselves.)
Here ‘s another article from last week, Sunday, January 6th, written partly in view of recent events, http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/opinion/perspectives/989269-474/kupchik-dont-put-armed-guards-in-schools.html by Aaron Kupchik (associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware and the author of 'HOMEROOM SECURITY; SCHOOL DISCIPLINE IN AN AGE OF FEAR'), his article is titled “Don’t put armed Guards in schools”. Some excerpts:
But their presence (police) has effects that help transform the school from an environment of academia to a site of criminal law enforcement. Issues that might otherwise be seen as mental health or social problems can become policing matters once an officer is stationed in a school.
Arrests for minor infractions, such as fistfights in which there are no injuries, go up. as the 2011 books ‘Punished’ and ‘Police in the Hallways’ have found – among other research – officers can start to see youths as thugs and criminals and begin treating them with hostility and sometimes even abusively.
Research has repeatedly shown that schools can prevent student misbehavior by establishing positive social climates. Students do better when they feel respected and listened to, like a valued part of the school, and when they view school regulations and actions, including security, as fair.
Introducing more police into schools can undo these efforts, making what had been an encouraging learning environment, where students are partners in an educational effort, into more of a place where students are subjects of school rules.
My main point is, ‘police in school or not’, is an issue that should be discussed with parents. The City and School Board could present their reasons, their research and their experiences. We parents, could contribute with our reservations, fears, and what kind of experiences we have. We could all read up on the subject. I have requested a meeting for this purpose, but it has so far gone unacknowledged by the School District and City. I am still hoping they will open up...