Weekly Roundup

“Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that one person in a relationship uses to control the other. The behavior may be verbally, emotionally, physically, financially, or sexually abusive. You as a parent may have left an abusive relationship or you may still be in one. This fact sheet is #1 in a series of 10 sheets written to help you understand how children may react to domestic violence, and how you can best help them to feel safe and valued and develop personal strength. For other fact sheets in the series, visit www.nctsn.org/content/resources”

“At age 14, Bresha Meadows killed her father, who had reportedly physically and mentally abused her family for years. She turned 15 in an Ohio jail, where she has been held awaiting trial since July. Meadows’ case has drawn attention to the way the criminal justice system often punishes young offenders harshly, particularly when they are black. While many child development specialists say juvenile convicts can benefit from rehabilitation programs, the politicians in charge of our criminal justice system often feel the need to implement law-and-order responses to violent crimes committed by young people.

As Jason Barnosky explains in a 2006 paper for Polity, there was a time when our political consensus didn’t demand get-tough responses to juvenile crime.

“On September 8, 2016, the United States Department of Education and the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) jointly released new guidance regarding school resource officer programs.  The new Safe School-based Enforcement through Collaboration, Understanding, and Respect (“SECURe”) rubrics are the result of the collaboration and partnership between these two federal agencies in an attempt to ensure that local and state educational agencies are implementing effective and positive school resource officer programs in the nation’s schools.  The SECURe rubric for local educational agencies aims to provide guidance to school districts on how to build trust between students and law enforcement officials through the school resource officer programs, while ensuring that school resource officer programs are administered responsibly in a non-discriminatory manner that takes a proactive approach to keeping students out of the school-to-prison pipeline.

The Department of Education’s strongly worded Dear Colleague Letter introducing the SECURe rubrics program explicitly states that school resource officers should not be administering discipline in schools and explains that an overreliance on the use of school resource officers may lead to violations of students’ civil rights and the potential for “unnecessary and harmful introduction of children and young adults into a school-to-prison pipeline.”  In the letter, the Secretary of Education encourages school officials to eliminate any school resource officer-related school discipline practices and policies that may contribute to students’ involvement with the juvenile justice system.”

[…]

“The Justice Department’s Dear Colleague Letter similarly reiterates the legitimate concerns that have been raised regarding the use of school resource officers in schools, specifically the improper involvement of school resource officers in school discipline.  The Justice Department stresses, however, that school resource officers can foster positive interaction for students with law enforcement officers, who may act as mentors and role models for students.  In order for school resource officer programs to be successful, per the Justice Department, school resource officers must be “hired, trained, evaluated and integrated into the school community” and must avoid usurping the role of educators in school discipline matters, noting “if they are given responsibilities more appropriately carried out by educators—negative outcomes, including violations of students’ civil rights, can and have occurred.””

Camille Van Kote

About Camille Van Kote

Camille Van Kote is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduated from Barnard College in 2012. As an undergraduate, she worked as an AmeriCorps member for Jumpstart for Young Children. She was also involved with the Columbia Child Rights Group, where she spearheaded various campus-wide events, including film screenings, conferences and fundraisers, to promote awareness on children’s issues. She interned at Tahirih Justice Center and Kids in Need of Defense, working with courageous women and unaccompanied minors fleeing violence. This past summer, she interned at the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, an NGO advocating for sexual and reproductive rights as human rights.

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