Do Police In Schools Make More Students Criminals?

(Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP)

Police in schools is a controversial subject. I can kind of understand why, too. There’s bound to be some concern about why schools need police officers actually on campus. Are teachers unable to maintain control of their classrooms? Are administrations unable to do their jobs?

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for many people.

However, a recent study tries to make the case that officers on campus create more problems than they solve.

The tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018 inspired a heated debate in the country over how to best keep our nation’s students safe.

Liberals favored stronger gun control measures they hoped would reduce the chances of such an atrocity. While many on the right advocated for increasing the number of armed police officers in schools to keep them safe.

A new study by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University has shed some light on the debate over how to keep our schools safe.

It found that between 2014 and 2018, having a police officer or school resource officers (SROs) (as they are commonly known) on campus did not reduce school shootings, but increased suspensions, expulsions and arrests of students.

Except, they can’t know that for certain.

See, I love studies. I like to read to studies quite often for a variety of subjects. I’m not a scientist, but I’ve learned a lot about studies and their limitations.

One of the big problems with any study is that people conduct the studies. While the data is neutral, the methods used for deriving it and interpreting it comes from people, people who often have a bias that clouds their work.

While I have no doubt their study found that SROs didn’t reduce school shootings, all they really found was that there was no statistical differences between the two samples they looked at. Another inherent limitation of any study is that they can’t delve into the minds of people who aren’t actively being studied.

How many people wanted to shoot someone at school but didn’t because there was a cop right there? Is it possible that some of the schools with SROs would have had more shootings if they didn’t have them?

So no, they can’t know that for certain.

Yet what about the other claims, that police in schools leads to increased suspensions, expulsions, and arrests? Well, I actually think that’s entirely possible.

What I don’t get is why that’s necessarily a bad thing?

Oh, the article linked above makes the case that these students are disproportionately black, but my question is and will remain whether these students are doing the things they’re accused of or not? It seems that the study and the article writer alike bemoan the punishment without a care of whether the students are actually breaking the rules and/or the law.

If so, then it kind of doesn’t matter, does it?

Frankly, I’d rather someone get some harsh punishment earlier in life when there’s still time to mend their ways. A tough bit of punishment might just wake someone up.

If not, well, at least it removes them from the equation and lets schools get back to the work of educating kids. Assuming, of course, the school is actually trying to do that in the first place.

We should also note that this came out of an Ivy League school. Based on what I’ve seen lately from Ivy League students like David Hogg, I have no reason to accept any finding of a study they conducted.