Adding More Police In Schools Won't Prevent Mass Shootings, Experts Say

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Experts are rebuking the idea that increasing police presence in schools will protect children from tragic events like the Uvalde mass shooting.

Per NBC News, increasing law enforcement in schools would not only be ineffective in stopping mass shootings but would also directly harm Black and Latino students. More police in schools would only contribute to the criminalization and punishment these students disproportionately face, experts warn.

"The research is clear that more police and hardening schools doesn’t work,” Patrick Bresette, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund of Texas, said.

“The millions and millions of dollars we’re spending on more law enforcement is at the cost of more effective ways to help kids; to provide mental health support, to identify someone who might be at risk of some sort of bad behavior, and to have a holistic response in schools. It’s following the evidence." Bresette added, "There are ways to prevent this that we’re not investing in.”

Last week, a gunman took 21 lives at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has its own police department, which includes four officers, a detective, and security staff who patrol the campus, yet none were able to prevent the massacre from occurring.

Still, Texas Senator Ted Cruz along with many other lawmakers are arguing that more armed police in schools is “the most effective tool for keeping kids safe.”

Ron Avi Astor, an expert on school violence at the University of California, Los Angeles, said there's "no evidence" that increasing police presence will stop gun violence in schools.

Astor noted, "...All these law enforcement measures actually have really negative mental health, academic connection to school consequences.”

Experts also point out the racial implications of more police in schools. Police often criminalize Black and Latino children for mouthing off or fighting at school, while for white children it's seen as common behavior, NBC News reports.

“We know from all the data regarding the school-to-prison pipeline, we know that police presence is unsafe for Black and brown students, and it causes our young people to interact with law enforcement in a way that has a huge impact on their future,” Erika Strauss Chavarria, an organizer with Black Lives Matter at Schools, said.

In the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting, Bresette and other experts are pushing preventative methods backed by research and data to protect students.

“The goal is to get to a place where the school is supportive,” Bresette said. “If that was the vision, you would not be militarizing schools, you would be making them as safe and supportive as you possibly could.”

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