The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) expressed concern over President Obama’s call to increase the number of school resource officers (SROs) in our nation’s schools. The use of school resource officers is known to contribute to the disproportionate number of youth with disabilities and youth of color in the juvenile justice system.
“President Obama’s call for more school resource officers will not improve school safety,” said Curt Decker, executive director of NDRN. “In fact, our investigations have shown that the use of SROs has only increased conflict and hostility in schools.”
According to the National Center on Education Statistics, a school resource officer is a “career law enforcement officer, with sworn authority, deployed in community-oriented policing, and assigned by the employing police department or agency to work in collaboration with school and community-based organizations.”
“SROs are largely untrained in the techniques educators use to deescalate conflict, reduce bullying and harassment, or to seek peaceful solutions to the daily dramas that are a part of growing up,” continued Decker. “SROs rely too heavily on the use of handcuffs, restraint and seclusion, and referrals to the juvenile justice system for minor infractions. These punishments disproportionally affect children with disabilities and children of color and are a major factor in the explosion of the school to prison pipeline.”
The proposals were made during the president’s January 16th address to reduce gun violence.