When School Food Fights Lead to Jail


Photo: Flickr Graffiti Land
More police officers in schools means more kids now get expelled or arrested for behaviors that before would have meant a trip to the principal’s office. Photo: Flickr Graffiti Land

In November, 25 Chicago middle school children were arrested for taking part in a food fight. Police officers handcuffed the children and took them to jail. They were charged with reckless misconduct.

In 2007, police in Florida arrested a six-year-old girl for having a tantrum at school. They handcuffed and arrested her. They charged her with a felony, which is a serious crime.

Why are children being arrested for food fights and tantrums? According to Peter Price, a former teacher who is now a lawyer, having police officers in public schools, also called “school security officers” or “school resource officers,” means more kids get arrested.

Police officers have not always worked on school grounds. Before the 1950s, they rarely patrolled schools. Some schools in the United States worked hand-in-hand with police officers between the 1950s and the 1980s, but not like they do today. In the 1980s, crime in the United States increased. To keep guns and drugs out of schools, many school districts brought in police officers. However, when crime decreased, more schools kept bringing in police officers.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of police officers in schools has risen by 30 percent in just the last ten years. As a result, more kids now get expelled or arrested for behaviors that before would have meant a trip to the principal’s office.

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