According to www.npr.org, data shows that schools with cops are more likely to refer children to law enforcement, including for non-serious violent behavior. In 43 states and the District of Columbia, Black students are more likely to be arrested than other students while at school; stated in an analysis by the Education Week Research Center. At least two-thirds of American high school students attend a school with a police officer, and that proportion is higher for students of color, according to the urban institute.
School violence is most common in large schools. This is not confined to urban schools; it is also prevalent in suburban schools as well. According to www.rand.org, the concerns and fears of parents and children appear to be out of proportion to reality. Forms of violence within the school system are: physical aggression such as shoving and pushing, face-to-face verbal harassment, public humiliation, and rumor mongering. Let’s not forget about the publicity that school shootings have received as a likely cause as well. As stated on the National Institute of Justice website, there is no single data collection that captures the complete picture of the frequency, incidence, and trends in violent crimes.
A review of the most widely used and well-known data sources reveals that incidents of multiple victim youth homicides in schools started declining in 1994 but have been increasing since 2009. And needless to say, within the Black community we don’t discuss how the school violence comes about and what we plan on doing for safety purposes. School violence arises from a layering cause and risk factors that include, but not limited to access to weapons, media violence, cyber abuse, the impact of school, the community, family environment, personal alienation, and etc. There is not a single reason as to why students become violent. Most of the time children just follow what they see at home, on tv, on the streets, video games and movies. Some are even dealing with mental health problems that in most cases are not considered “an issue” within the Black community as a whole.
Eight percent of teachers say they are threatened with violence in schools at least once a month. Two percent report being physically attacked each year. After a violent week of fighting at Southwood High Schools, 23 students were arrested in three days. The parents of that school knew something had to change, and not just for their children but hopefully schools as a whole. According to www.cbsnews.com, some dads have decided to take matters into their own hands. They had formed a Dads on Duty group of about 40 dads who took shifts spending time at the school in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Dads on Duty greet the students in the morning and help them maintain a positive environment for learning, rather than fighting.
In addition, Alexis Morgan, a resident and business management major from New Orleans, La., totally agrees with this movement in showing positive support within an predominant Black community. Morgan states that most times kids grow up without a positive role model, so they act out in sometimes a negative manner.
“I was actually impressed by the Dads on Duty because this is something that is not normally seen,” said Morgan. “Most times the violence in school districts are only televised without showing the positive action moving forward for a better outcome.”
“I immediately felt a form of safety,” one of the students said. “We stopped fighting; people started going to class.”
Furthermore, there are ways to prevent violence within schools. Many schools have set up ways to report bullying or signs of violence anonymously. Some schools also have programs that bring students together to share their experiences, and to talk about solutions. Start important discussions with your children. Most times your child could tell you “everything is just fine,” and now you as the parent are waiting for them to come and talk to you. Know the warning signs; this could include withdrawal from friends, decline in grades, abruptly quitting sports or clubs the child had enjoyed, sleep disruptions, eating problems, lying, and chronic physical complaints.
Stated on www.hiphopwired.com, none of the Dads on Duty have a degree in school counseling or criminal justice, but they do have relevant experience. “We’re dads,” stated Micheal LaFitte who started Dads on Duty. “We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us.” There has even been a trending hashtag of Dads on Duty on Twitter and Instagram. A shared post on Twitter by Wakeel Allah retweeted the Dads on Duty at Southwood High Schools in Shreveport saying, “Black Men are the best fathers and Natural Born Leaders. When we are our true selves and take our rightful place, it brings peace and order to the children. A Salute to the Black Men.”
Moreover, there should be positive actions taking place to help further mental health, bullying, cyber abuse, family environment, etc when it appeals to Black youth within schools and the community. Monique Morris is the author of the books Pushout and Sing A Rhythm, Dance a Blues about black girls’ educational experience. Morris says new research shows that police in majority caucasian and affluent schools are more likely to think of their job as protecting the school from outside threats, such as shootings. But in schools that are low-income and the majority of students being of color, they are instead looking at the students themselves as threats. “For children of color, we see that this leads to a hyper-criminalization and a way that people perceive them to be criminals, even if they are just being children,” Morris explained.
“If there is a conflict, rather than calling law enforcement, the student can take a breath and go into mediation or they can watch a video and learn how to reset their emotions,” says Morris.
There are dozens of documented incidents in the past decade where a resource officer tasered, pepper sprayed, injured or otherwise used force on a student. There are evidence-based alternatives for effective school safety. There are restorative justice programs, a program called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and having mental health counselors and other support staff available when students are acting out.