Safety with Dignity: Alternatives to the Over-Policing of Schools
Jul 16, 2009
By Dan Van Ness
On July 8, 2009, three organizations -- the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and Make the Road New York -- released a report on six New York City schools that have created safe and nurturing environments without relying on metal detectors, aggressive policing and harsh discipline.
Based on the success of those schools, Safety with Dignity: Alternatives to the Over-Policing of Schools offers seven recommendations for replicating their experience in other NY City schools.
The report's "Summary of Findings and Recommendations" identifies five core principles of schools that are safe and that provide nurturing learning environments:
dignity and respect for all members of the school community;
authority and responsibility for discipline residing with educators rather than police personnel;
strong and compassionate leadership;
clear lines of authority and open lines of communication between administrators, teachers, police personnel and students; and
unambiguous, fair rules and disciplinary procedures.
One of its seven recommendations is to "Mandate alternatives to harsh discipline," with the following explanation:
Schools throughout the United States have begun to implement positive alternatives to harsh discipline policies, and have succeeded in reducing suspensions and dropouts. The DOE should mandate trainings for all school staff in restorative justice practices—a conflict resolution method that focuses on providing opportunities for all sides of a dispute to define the harms caused by an act and devise remedies—and implement such programs in all city schools.