The American Civil Liberties Union has urged Vice President Joe Biden to reject proposals to avert gun violence by placing armed police guards in schools.
“Past experience demonstrates that increasing police presence in schools after a tragedy, while well-intentioned, is misguided,” ACLU senior legislative counsel Deborah J. Vagins said in a letter (PDF) to the vice president. “The cost to the health and wellbeing of our children is just too great. Any proposals that would bring more police, school resource officers (SROs), or even the National Guard, as some current legislative proposals suggest, must be rejected. Militarizing our schools is not the answer to improving school climate.”
Biden plans to deliver the results of his national taskforce on gun violence to Obama on Tuesday. At least one of the participants in that taskforce, the National Rifle Association, has called for armed guards in every school.
The ACLU warned that installing police in schools “can harm educational opportunities by unnecessarily pushing students out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” The organization said that school police spend most of their time responding to nonviolent infractions, such as disciplining children who have drawn on desks.
Bringing police into schools could also harm minority students, who are “punished more harshly and more frequently” than their white counterparts.
“Criminalizing minor misbehavior that should be handled by teachers or school administrators has serious consequences for kids and only contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline,” Vagins said.
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