Yesterday, millions of American students participated in the March for Life to promote social change and a renewed demand in the United States for gun control. In doing so, the generation that cannot turn away from their smartphones found a way to use those phones as tools for a cause. They embarked on a journey of progress that Donald Trump and the GOP establishment are unable to: resisting and standing up to the NRA.
Even as students marched on Washington, D.C. and other cities across the nation and globe, the republican party and Trump were caving to the NRA and its ill-conceived policymaking. Instead of addressing the issues of gun control and violence that have taken a toll on our nation’s schools, the goose-stepping leadership touted and adopted plans to arm teachers and position more police in public schools. The presence of authoritarian rule in schools — whether it arrives in the form of an innocuous “school resource officer,” “D.A.R.E. contact,” or an on-site S.W.A.T. team — is more likely a veiled attempt to control and silence free speech, expression, and open-minded intellectual development.
Police have no business in public schools under any label. The heavy-handed company of armed officers among young impressionable minds does not accomplish safety. The NRA/GOP argument that armed officers reduce crime is a fallacy that fails even basic review considering last month’s gunman targeted Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while a veteran deputy stood outside the school.
America has been placing armed police in public schools since the 1950s when Flint, Michigan began a program to reduce school-based crimes. Since then, the use of armed guards in public schools has grown slowly. In the 1990s, only about a quarter of schools reported having a police presence on campus. However, in the 2000s following the 9/11 bombings and the so-called Patriot Act, law enforcement occupation of America’s schools has burgeoned. By last year, nearly 80% of public schools had armed police working among students.
Police have no business in public schools under any label.
In contrast to NRA and GOP claims that more armed police in schools will reduce school shootings, the number of shootings has climbed drastically over the last decade — during the same period that police presence increased. On the flip side of the armed police argument are private schools where shootings are a rarity instead of the norm. Private schools function in more intimate settings with lower staff-to-student ratios that allow teachers to interact with students — understanding students’ dynamic personalities and individualities. A school resource officer is a poor substitute for quality teacher-student interaction and relationships that aid development.
Additionally, SROs make less arrests related to active-shooter incidents than they do to drug charges and other petty on-campus crimes. SROs may investigate on-campus incidents and play an active role in policing off-campus behavior. Placing law enforcement in an education setting gives them somewhat privileged access to the minds and lives of teens and students — a delicate position that can lead to abuse of power and unnecessary suppression and oppression of young minds.
As students marched across the country on Saturday, some students were still being detained in study halls as punishment for participating in last week’s walkouts. Others were facing suspensions for “telling off” members of congress with profanity. In light of foul-mouthed Blonde Hitler’s behavior in the White House, it seems clownishly irresponsible for any school district to punish students for telling any impotent and NRA-bribe-taking member of congress to get off their fucking ass and do their job to represent the people. At a time when every rational American is thinking it, it seems entirely an appropriate statement by anyone — students included.
It is disappointing that school administrators would rather take the position of oppressor and enforcer rather than an open-minded educator. The march and walkout have demonstrated how parents and adults love to tout their students; up to the point they realize that young people have divergent ideologies and morals. Then they punish and condemn them with criminalized rules.
Once schools adopted law enforcement personnel as part of the normal staff, the structure of rules changed. Instead of infractions on school campuses being handled by administrators, drug, alcohol, tobacco, and other minor rule violations became criminalized — destroying lives with records and bad experiences with police as authoritarian oppressors. Students retreated into private conversations, social groups, and off-campus activities to avoid the oversight of police and their spying eyes. Once again, however, despite the eavesdropping and “Office Friendly” approach, the presence of cops on campuses does little to alert law enforcement to potential active shooter situations.
March on students of America and make the changes that the pretend adults in the White House and congress cannot seem to accomplish. Your voices will be heard en masse and someday replace the poorly conceived wall building and 25-cent bullet in the chamber legislating that runs Washington.
Featured Image: ABC News/Win McNamee/Getty Images