Kids should not be in the adult criminal legal system. But every year in the United States, close to 100,000 youth are put into the adult system, most of them for non-violent offenses.
The school environment created by constant policing through the use of school resource officers has significant social, psychological, and even physical impact on students. In addition, the investment in policing diverts needed resources from counselors and mental health professionals.
NYU Law Professor Randy Hertz says of this system that school resource officers, “especially in low-income communities of color … get into confrontations constantly with kids, generating fictitious crimes and sending kids to court for no reason whatsoever.”
We need an alternative system that treats youth with dignity and respects their unique characteristics as children — including their capacity for change and susceptibility to trauma. Schools across the country must end the presence of law enforcement and instead work to create safe environments for students to learn and grow.
As Theo Shaw, who spent seven months wrongfully jailed at 17, said, “I experienced things inside of the adult prison system that no child or young person should ever have to experience.”