Criminal Justice Reform Update from Social Justice Action Team

Did you know that 14 million students in the U.S. are in schools with police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker? From the poll taken following our Mass Incarceration presentation in May, many people were interested in more information about the school-to-prison pipeline.

Research from various professional and governmental sources shows that schools that employ more school-based mental health providers see improved attendance rates, lower rates of suspension and expulsion, improved academic achievement and career preparation, improved graduation rates and improved school safety. However, there is no evidence that police in schools improve school safety — indeed, in many cases they are causing harm. When in schools, police do what they are trained to do — detain, handcuff, and arrest.

Given this information, we would expect school boards, school principals, and government leaders to be working to remove law enforcement from our schools and using every available resource to build up school-based health professionals. That has not been the trend. Instead, funding for police in schools has been on the rise, while our public schools face a critical shortage of counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers.

Senate Bill 2125, Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act has been introduced in Congress. It aims to help disrupt the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline, invest in safe and nurturing school climates that support all students, and end over-policing in K-12 schools.

When we put a police officer in a school, we’re sending a message that our children require surveillance. When we put a counselor in a school, we’re sending a message that our children deserve nurturing and support.

As Christians, we can support the health and education of our students by supporting the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act. If you are so moved, please let Senators Sinema and Kelly know that you want them to co-sponsor Senate Bill 2125.

*Taken from Cops and No Counselors: How the Lack of School Mental Health Staff Is Harming Students.