By Leah Robertson
The Youth Justice Coalition says no to armed police in schools. A coalition of students visited Washington, D.C. yesterday to stage a rally and march from Congress to the White House to demand “Counselors, not Cops.”
Students stand in front of Congress
to say NO to cops in Schools
Following the tragedy at Newtown, Congress has been considering legislation and funding to put more cops in schools. However, these students vocalized how they have already seen that police presence in schools does not create the positive learning environments students need to promote a positive learning environment. On the contrary, police presence in schools leads to more suspensions and expulsions, which research shows funnel more kids to the juvenile justice system, and sometimes takes them directly to the adult criminal justice system.
It was so inspiring to see these young people coming together to take a stand for their right to education and safety. Several teenagers spoke out about their personal experiences with police officers in schools. They consistently emphasized the physical and emotional scars of misplaced investments: funding police officers instead of teachers, counselors, and evidence-based programs.
Counselors, Not Cops.
Counsel, Don't Cuff.
One young man spoke about the life-changing impact one counselor had on him. This counselor helped him change from a confused and angry teenager to a motivated student. If this one counselor taking a personal interest in him could have such an impact, imagine what our youth could do if we increased the ratio of counselors to students from 500:1 to 100:1 or even 50:1, rather than investing in more police who are likely to criminalize our students at a fragile and critical identity-building stage in their lives. Imagine what we could do with all the money saved by keeping youth out of the pipeline to prison and on the course to college and careers.
For more information on the Youth Justice Coalition Rally, click here.
For press clips, click here.