An Armed Bully In Every School

4 Apr

Eisenhower On Armed Guards In SchoolsThe Washington Post fails the statistical test on the issue of putting armed guards in public schools.

A 225-page study commissioned by the National Rifle Association has endorsed and amplified the gun rights group’s immediate response to the mass killing in Newtown, Conn.: that all schools in the United States should have police or armed staff members trained to confront a shooter.

Although ostensibly independent of the NRA, the examination of school safety issues, released Tuesday, provides the organization with an alternative narrative to the various gun-control measures on Capitol Hill that it is opposing or seeking to dilute.

The National School Shield Report focuses on a host of possible safety measures, such as internal door security and perimeter fencing, but its central recommendation is that armed personnel should be posted in all schools. Former congressman Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.), who led the $1 million study, said schools could use “school resource officers” — typically local police trained to work in schools — or arm teachers or administrators designated by school boards or superintendents.

Those staff members should receive 40 to 60 hours of weapons instruction and other training, the report recommends.

In a statement, the NRA said it needs time “to digest the full report” but thinks it will “go a long way to making America’s schools safer.”

Hutchinson argued that armed school personnel can reduce death tolls in shootings. He pointed to a 1997 incident at a high school in Pearl, Miss., in which an assistant principal was able to retrieve a .45 semiautomatic pistol from his truck and detain a 16-year-old student who had killed two students and wounded others.

I’ll see your Pearl and raise you a Meridien.

AMY GOODMAN: Judith Browne Dianis, can you talk about what’s happening in Meridian, Mississippi?

JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS [a co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights litigator, racial justice advocate, helped author a new report called “A Real Fix: The Gun-Free Way to School Safety”]: Sure. So, Meridian is a key instance in which we know that police in schools becomes a problem. The Department of Justice actually filed a lawsuit against Meridian because their—because, actually, of what we call the school-to-prison pipeline, where young people are being pushed into the juvenile justice system because of police in schools, anything from talking back to a teacher to a dress code violation winding people up in the juvenile justice system. And so, there were two, actually, cases that were filed. One was a case against the police department in Meridian, and then there was a complaint filed at the Department of Education against the school district, because the school district was really utilizing police as their disciplinary—as a disciplinary measure and hauling kids off to—off to the juvenile court in Mississippi for very minor conduct.

And again, we’re not talking about the kind of conduct that warrants an arrest. We’re talking about young people who are being arrested for temper tantrums, for talking back to the teacher, for running down the hallway. Running down the hallway becomes a disorderly conduct charge. So, unfortunately, when you have a police officer in the school, what happens is they become not only the enforcer, but they start looking at the criminal codes in a very expansive way and applying it to young people, instead of taking the time to step back, de-escalate a situation and say, “This is a young person. How does a young person behave? And how can we correct that behavior instead of arresting them? Because arresting them is not going to teach them different behavior.” And again, we find that young people of color, LGBTQ youth and children with special needs are the ones who are being most impacted by this.

We could play these games with anecdotes all day.

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