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Are we criminalizing normal childhood behavior?
A video posted on Twitter this week shows a female student being slammed to the ground by a school resource officer in Wake County, N.C. The footage has drawn renewed attention to the presence of police in schools and the treatment of kids at the hands of officers.
We’ll talk with a school resource officer about law enforcement training for officers who patrol schools. Plus, we’ll look at the social history of school discipline and examine modern methods of maintaining classroom order.
- DJ Schoeff is a school resource officer in Indiana and a vice president of the National Association of School Resource Officers.
- Dennis Parker is director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Racial Justice Program.
- Judith Kafka is an associate professor in the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College.
- Jennifer Egan is a juvenile public defender in Baltimore, MD.
- Jeffrey Mittman is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.
What People Told Us During The Show
Here’s what listeners had to say on the topic of disciplining kids in school:
@1a I work in a school and there needs to be cops. Teens can get violent and the teachers job is to teach, not break up a fight
— Jessi B. (@daskicat2) January 5, 2017
@1a insubordinate and sullen students are the teachers problem. The police should never be called for any degree of that
— Dee Steph (@TeeDeeBee44) January 5, 2017
@1a We used to deal w/ kids as individuals. Blanket policies now remove educators’ ability to tailor responses to kids’ situations & actions
— Craig Froehle (@CRA1G) January 5, 2017
— Ursine (@beverlykills316) January 5, 2017
— Acy Slater (@ACK2069) January 5, 2017
@1a I went to a small school in Shelby co. AL and the middle school environment felt criminalizing even without law enforcement
— Ben Hickerson (@OkamiLugia) January 5, 2017
@1a I treat my students like adults from day one…I think this gives them ownership of their learning outcomes. I also practice grace. 😉
— Mr. Yoder (@MrBenYoder) January 5, 2017
Join the conversation on Twitter now @1A!
Be advised: This video shows violence against a student and contains an expletive.
This video of a female student being body slammed by a school resource officer at Rolesville High School in North Carolina was shared on Twitter on January 3, 2017.
Tell Your Story
School discipline has changed a lot in the last few years and decades, and it varies from school to school. Share your experience with us, and your story may end up on the show.
Stories Of School Discipline
Some listeners sent us their stories about misbehaving in school and how they were punished.
Pat of St. Louis, MO:
If I was lazy, rude, or broke any rule, the wrath of God would descend on me at Baden Public School in St Louis, Missouri. I’d be called to the principal’s office, (oh the dread), then they’d call home, my mother would be there in ten minutes with thunderbolts coming from her eyes. I’d get such a tongue lashing at home and no allowance and be grounded. It just wasn’t worth it to get into trouble!!! I quickly learned to behave; do my work; be no trouble; get no bad marks. This was because absolutely nobody would ever be on the side of the “criminal me.” No excuses. No quarter. No appeals. No pardon. Baden School was where I learned what the world is really like and what it expected from me. That lesson served me my whole life.
Eric of Mystic, CT:
I was picked up and slammed against a wall in fifth grade by a teacher for pushing in line back in the 60’s and sustained a head injury. My parents held me accountable.
Emily of Houston, TX:
When I was in eighth grade, I stole a set of Spanish teaching CDs from my junior high school. I had no prior disciplinary record. I was expelled from the eighth grade and had to spend the remainder of the year in an alternative learning center. Because I was taking high school level courses in the eighth grade, I could not attend all of the classes, because that would mean sending me over to the high school level alternative learning center. So I spent much of the day sitting in the teachers lounge rather than taking coursework. I was eventually arrested and charged with a class B misdemeanor and given probation. The book was thrown at me, and I barely escaped unscathed.
Benjamin of Alexandria, VA:
Accidentally stabbed a friend in the arm with a metal pen when we were horsing around before class started. It went deep enough to cause a small amount of bleeding – he got a tetanus shot and I got one-day out of school suspension. This was in 6th grade. This was in rural Ohio.
Taliba of Richmond, TX:
As a child in Ohio, the worst I received was a 3-hit paddling. Actually, I deserved it; I was an A student who out of character fought with a girl I disliked; who’s mother happened to be a teacher! In the 1980s my (1st grade) daughter was about to suspended in her Indianapolis Elementary school for hitting an older student with her metal lunchbox (I didn’t allow physical discipline of my child). When I went to pick her up I found she hadn’t been questioned about what precipitated the incident. She had been pushed off a swing on the play ground by the 3rd grader who told her “Ni_rbabies” couldn’t swing. I went straight to the Principal-she wasn’t suspended, instead they apologized to each other. Nowadays she’d be in handcuffs!
Roy of Houston, TX:
In fifth grade, a girl and I were trading insults at lunch, trying to one-up each other. Finally, I tried to scandalize her with an expletive-laden insult that involved her grandfather. It was something you might hear in the “Aristocrats” joke. It worked. She started crying. Her granddad had just passed away. The teacher made me write a letter to my parents detailing what I had said and told me to get it signed. I wrote the letter in pencil, and on the bus ride home I erased a few important words and replaced them with something much more innocuous. My mom signed it, thinking the teacher was overreacting, and on the bus ride back to school I changed the words back to the original language. The teacher figured I’d learned my lesson.
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