I couldn’t help but be impressed by the students from Northern Secondary School in Toronto who protested the hiring of a police officer for their school, and wonder why there doesn’t seem to be resistance to such efforts in the US.
One student eloquently argues that there is “no community accountability for the decision” to bring police into the school because it was not democratically made and that students were not consulted. It’s hard for me to imagine many American high school students formulating such an argument or even raising a fuss.
Any thoughts as to why this might be? Is this school unique? Perhaps the students have a great teacher who gave them a sense of their political agency. Has there been more opposition to the increased police presence in our schools in the US that I’m not aware of?
When I went in high school – in a small town in central Illinois – we didn’t have to contend with cops or metal detectors to enter the building, and except in the most extreme circumstances, that’s the way it should be.
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While I agree that this level of awareness among students is surprising, perhaps the students were just reacting to the psychological impact of being considered a potential violent threat. As Michael Nagler suggests in his book Is There No Other Way?, the installation of metal detectors in schools:
Northern Secondary School appears to be mostly white, middle class students, who have probably never been told they were a security threat before. On the one hand that creates the perfect climate for resistance. On the other, it serves as a reminder that there are many other children, particularly in low-income/high crime areas who have been told their whole lives that they are dangerous. That is a much harder wall to break down. But kudos to the kids at Northern Secondary School in Toronto for speaking up. May they begin to see the larger picture facing school children and work toward rooting out the violence that makes such security measures “necessary” in some people’s minds.
I think you’re probably right. In Austin, TX, our school district keeps two armed police officers assigned full-time to each high school. It has bothered me ever since I began going into the high schools to do tabling with our counter-recruitment group. From what I’ve observed, the police seem to try to cultivate friendly relations with the students, but they also clearly are there to enforce a punishment protocol re. fights, drug use, etc. That is, a police presence is not conducive to students and school staff developing their own methods of conflict resolution. If the idea is, “oh, the police will handle it,” whenever there is a fight, for example, it reinforces the notion that the only way to respond to fighting is with armed intervention and juvenile detention.
This was the high school I went to. I can’t imagine it being a school that is a security threat. Its not even in a remotely bad neighbourhood of Toronto.
I went to this high school and it was the most diverse school in the area. At the time I went, sure there were pranks but the need to post a police officer inside the school is nuts. The neighbourhood the school is located in, is in one of the nicest areas in Toronto. I’m sure glad to see that the student body is using their right to free speech to protest this asburded idea. Way to go Northern! Long Live the Red Knights! Go Northern Go!
Well, I went there too but it was 10 yrs ago. Surely things have changed if the school believes a police officer is needed there no? Im not defending the idea by all means, but i do think that we need to base our opinions on more than this 100 word article (which mostly focuses on US schools and very briefly mentions Northern). This is a really nice neighbourhood but crime still occurs there. People have been killed and women have been raped there unfortunately. A good neighbourhood does not mean no crime and good people, although yes crime there occurs less than in some other not so good ones.