But while we acknowledge the progress that has been made, we must recognize how much further we have to go. There remains just over two million youth arrested each year in America. This would include the South Carolina girl and many like her where no video was taken. On any given day, there are nearly 70,000 youth incarcerated in the United States – six times the rate of England.
In the wake of a video showing Columbia, South Carolina’s Officer Ben Fields apparently slamming and dragging a young black student at Spring Valley High School, the role of police officers in our schools has become the focus of nation-wide debate. Though Fields was fired, many are blaming the student for supposedly inciting the attack by not complying with teachers and administrators before Fields was called to the classroom, including Fields’ superior Sheriff Leon Lott who said the student “is responsible for initiating this action.”
We’Ced Youth Media took the incident as an opportunity to look at the issue locally. According to our city website, at the high school level Merced School Resource Officers (SRO’s) are meant to “maintain order on each of the campuses” and “identify ‘at risk’ juveniles and work with them to try to change their behavior.” Here, We’Ced reporters reflect on their experiences with SRO’s in the past and what they feel the role of SRO’s should be in our local schools.
Data shows that one in 9 students are suspended nationally, with racial disparities widening. The Central Valley city of Fresno, CA. is among districts seeking to reverse this trend. Under a zero-tolerance school discipline policy, the district has long seen high numbers of both suspensions and expulsions. But in a major reversal last week, Superintendent Michael Hanson announced that he would begin funding district-wide restorative justice programs. Jane Stevens is founder and editor of ACES Too High, which focuses on adverse childhood experiences (ACE). Stevens, a journalist who has long covered school discipline practices in Fresno, spoke with New America Media about decision.
As my story shows, some people fight for silly reasons. School violence is not common, but it is a problem. Fights can occur at any time. They can also be prevented in many ways. Schools seem to have good measures to prevent violence, however, the ones who can really prevent violence are the ones who engage in it, the students them- selves.