The New York City school year got off to a violent start with an increase in deadly weapons and the murder of a student in his school. Now some are calling for tighter security, but others are worried about criminalizing our children.
“When I go to school and I feel like I’m not safe,” Matthew, a middle school student, said. “I think I can speak for all people — it affects you spiritually, mentally and physically.”
Safety fears are a daily reality for a majority of students and teachers, according to the Department of Education’s own survey.
The number of weapons seized in schools is up by nearly 50 percent, with 328 for July 1 to October 1, 2017, compared to 222 for the same period last year. ”
The students have a sense they can do whatever they want in our schools, so they’re bringing in more weapons,” said Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, the union representing school safety agents.
Abel Cedeno, 18, allegedly used a serrated switchblade to stab and kill Matthew McCree, 15, at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Management in the Bronx.
Brian Favors, an expert in urban education, said another layer of adult intervention would deescalate these situations before they turn violent.
“We need to really be intentional about looking at how do you create a village in the school,” Favors said. “That means training for teachers in cultural competence, and how to handle conflicts, because a lot of these conflicts could be resolved.”
The tragedy created an outcry for metal detectors, which were promptly installed in the school. Only about 6 percent of New York City middle and high schools have them. The concern by the administration is the undertone of criminalization.
“In addition to the permanent scanners that are in the schools, we have the ability to go to any given school on any given day and do scanning there,” said Assistant Chief Brian Conroy of the NYPD School Safety Division.
A growing number of community leaders and parents say kids should not have to face their fears on their own.
“When you’re trying to focus on school, you also have a whole lot of problems running through your mind, ‘Oh what if I run into this person this day or after school, what am I going to do?'” Matthew said. “That all affects your academics, which will affect the rest of your life, will affect your career. And that’s not good.” Some say school safety measures need to keep up with our changing times. –LISA EVERS
FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers
BRIAN FAVORS, M.ED., M.S.ED., Educator, Breaking the Cycle Consulting https://www.culturallyresponsiveteach…
DARRIN PORCHER, PH.D., Criminal Justice Professor and Former NYPD Lieutenant https://twitter.com/DrDarrinPorcher
MATTHEW, Middle School Student
LINETTE TOWNSLEY, NAACP Youth Advisor