Do you know if the K-12 schools in your area have school resource officers (SRO)?
- SROs are law enforcement officers assigned to work at schools. Massachusetts began mandating all school districts assign at least one SRO per district in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in hopes that law enforcement presence would provide safety and crime prevention. The Policing Reform bill passed at the end of 2020 removed this requirement and now gives school superintendents discretion on whether or not to request an SRO.
Did you know the presence of law enforcement in school settings actually leads to increased punishment of Black children, particularly Black girls, and facilitates the school to prison pipeline (also called the trauma to prison pipeline)?
- The presence of police in schools has led to the increased criminalization of young people, particularly young people of color. Black and other youth of color are often perceived as a threat rather than students to protect.
- Experiencing sexual or domestic violence can lead to behaviors in the classroom that are considered disruptive and warranting discipline. When SROs are in schools this can lead to violence and often leads to involvement in the juvenile justice system.
JDI firmly believes that young survivors deserve access to resources that offer support and healing. Survivors should not be criminalized for their behavior. We believe schools should work to divest from SROs and instead invest in holistic supportive services.
This is why JDI is proud to support HD3090/SD2043 An Act Relative to Safer Schools! These bills would define “holistic school health and safety practices” to include “practices that support the creation of healthy relationships and counter sexual harassment, sexual assault, and harassment based on other identities, including race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion.”
Check out Center for Juvenile Justice report “Fail: School Policing in Massachusetts” for more information on the impacts of policing in schools in Massachusetts.
Check out The Georgetown Law Report “The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story” to learn more about how sexual violence leads to involvement in the criminal legal system.
Check out NWLC Report “100 School Districts: A Call to Action for School Districts Across the Country to Address Sexual Harassment Through Inclusive Policies and Practices”