On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida claiming the lives of 17 students and school staff. Since that tragic day, the nation has heard reactions and responses from the families of the victims and concerned students across the country, demanding solutions that honor those whose lives were lost.
In the weeks following the shooting, communities called on their legislators and school administrators to effectively address gun violence. In addition to conversations about gun violence, the Parkland shooting sparked dialogue about mental health, safety, police in schools, and the alarming move to arm school faculty.
To the detriment of Black and Brown students, the national conversation fails to acknowledge that an increase in police and guns in our schools harshly impacts young people of color.
Advancement Project is standing together with our partners to amplify the voices of students and communities of color who want an end to gun violence without an increase in police in our neighborhoods and schools.
Take Action: Tell Your Governor to Support Students of Color
To the detriment of Black and Brown students, the national conversation about school safety fails to acknowledge that an increase in police and guns in our schools harshly impacts young people of color. Tell your governor to support common sense solutions, not more police and armed teachers.
The latest information on legislation passed post-Parkland to increase school police presence.
- All students deserve to attend schools where they feel safe, supported and respected. Students in Parkland and across the country have summarily declared that mental health professionals, counselors and caring adults in school are the pathway to preventing mass violence, not teachers with deadly weapons or more school police.
- Creating police states within schools and communities will not solve mass violence. Moves to militarize police in schools by equipping them with higher grade assault weapons and surveillance technology has only proved to make students feel less safe in school.
- Investing in school police is a misguided strategy that does not improve campus safety. Research confirms that school police fail to deter mass violence, make schools no safer and lead to an increase of school-based arrests for minor misbehaviors. More police in schools creates the appearance of safety rather than actually creating truly safe schools or addressing the underlying root causes of school violence. School based police officers have not prevented mass shootings in Newtown, CT or Parkland, FL.
- Police presence disproportionately harms youth of color who are suspended, expelled, arrested and referred to law enforcement than their white peers for the exact same behaviors. Police officers are not usually trained in youth and adolescent development, or in how to effectively interact with students and school personnel. We should not expect police to screen students for mental health issues or to act as counselors and mentors.
- Investments in policing and armed teachers diverts critical education funding away from student supports like school psychologists, nurses and educators to create hostile learning environments that mirror prisons and calcify the school-to-prison pipeline.
- The role of school police officers should not be confused with that of a school guidance counselor, social worker, student mentor, or educator. School police are sworn law enforcement officers who are almost exclusively trained and tasked with enforcing the criminal code. They do not complete extensive coursework in youth development, receive substantive training on age-appropriate behaviors for students in each age category, nor teach students within the school setting as their primary function. The approach of school police to students is often neither trauma-centered, nor responsive to the negative experience of student populations within schools.
An improvement in mental health resources in U.S. cities cannot happen without an intentional and accountable effort to divest funding and shift budgeting from School Police officers to other necessary programs that actually promote a nurturing school environment. The expansion of police presence and security personnel/equipment in schools must end, as it only promotes a culture of fear rather than reinforcing the creativity and voice of students.