Today reports emerged about a sleeping Ohio student being awakened in school by the sound of an unarmed Taser deployed by a law enforcement official. Fortunately, the student was not injured in the incident.
“I’m glad the school is taking immediate steps to hold this officer accountable. However, these incidents – and more serious ones – make students feel less safe and are bound to happen when law enforcement officers are placed in schools on a daily basis. We have heard of Tasers being used on students who refuse to leave a lunch table and to threaten students. Ohio must instead invest in student supports, like counselors, social workers, and nurses, who can help identify the roots of student behavior, like why students are coming to school this tired,” said Amber Evans, Director of Policy and Organizing, Juvenile Justice Coalition.
“This is exactly why we don’t want police in our schools. Imagine what an officer could do with a gun. In Columbus schools, students are actually getting tased and having excessive force used on them – like being slammed to the ground or yoked up [grabbed by their shirt] – by School Resource Officers regularly,” said Dominga Black, a recent high school graduate.
“In my community of West Dayton, the simple presence of law enforcement in a school building rapidly transforms a learning environment to one of reward and punishment. This is especially hard for students who have experienced trauma at home and in the community with law enforcement to go from trying to learn to try to stay alive. Students in our elementary schools have been handcuffed for hitting desks. From that point forward that SRO is not a friend or a person of support, but rather an authority figure that should be feared. Students are not well served in environments like these,” said Hashim Jabar with Racial Justice NOW!
The Juvenile Justice Coalition is part of the #counselorsnotcuffs campaign, a coalition of Ohio organizations, students, and teachers calling for more effective investments in school safety funding by:
1) Improving school climates and increasing access to school-based addiction and mental health services and licensed prevention and treatment professionals, such as counselors, social workers, and nurses, and
2) Putting in place research-based protocols to address threats and creating agreements with local law enforcement to respond to emergencies.
The campaign’s principles and signatories are available here.