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How We End Over-policing of Black Children

We support efforts to Defund the Police and remove them from schools.
We demand anti-racist disciplinary policies in schools.

THIS IS WHY.

The Issues

Police and Sexual Misconduct

Sexual violence by the police is systemic and widespread. Nationally, investigations have found patterns of sexual misconduct by officers during traffic stops, minor offenses, interactions with teenagers, and while off-duty.

  • Police are accused of an act of sexual misconduct at least every five days. (1)
  • Half of officer arrests for sexual misconduct are for incidents involving minors. (2) 
  • A survey of New York City youth found 2 in 5 young women — almost half of whom were Black, Latina or Asian — reported sexual harassment by officers. (1)
  • Between 2009–2014, one study found 11% of decertified police officers lost their licenses because of sexual misconduct—but that does not mean they were charged with a crime. (3)
  • Though records of police misconduct are not often made public, research into those records uncovered 3,145 allegations of rape, child molestation, and other sexual misconduct and 2,307 cases of domestic violence by officers over the last decade. (4)

“Sexual predation by police officers happens far more often than people in the business are willing to admit.” – former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper 

Policing in Schools

Police violence disproportionately threatens and traumatizes Black children in schools. Law enforcement in schools does not keep children safe, but does expose them to harm.  

  • In American schools, Black girls are over-represented in arrests and referrals to law enforcement. (5)
  • While they make up 16% of the student population, Black students represent 31% of all students arrested or referred to law enforcement. There is no evidence that Black students have higher rates of misbehavior. (5)
  • Black girls represent 17% of the school population, but 43% of all girls arrested at school. (5)
  • Police and security personnel in schools can make Black girls feel less safe and less likely to attend school. (6)

Officials at a Florida elementary school called police because a six-year-old girl was having a tantrum. Officers arrested the young Black girl, led her away to a juvenile detention center in handcuffs as she cried. (7)

School discipline

State-sponsored discrimination, violence, and trauma against Black kids is carried out by school administrations as well. 

  • Black girls are 3x more likely to be physically restrained in schools than white girls. (5)
  • There are four million teachers in the U.S. and only 7% are black; yet 16% of the student population in the U.S. is black. (5)
  • Nearly 32% of public schools with 50%+ students of color took serious disciplinary action in response to physical attacks or fights; only 16% of public schools with predominantly white students did. (8)
  • populations took serious disciplinary action.
  • Black boys are 3x more likely to be suspended from school than white boys. 
  • Black girls are 6x more likely to be suspended from school than white girls.

“In 2014, a 12-year-old girl faced expulsion and criminal charges after writing ‘hi’ on a locker room wall of her Georgia middle school, and a Detroit honors student was suspended for her entire senior year for accidentally bringing a pocketknife to a football game. In 2013 … a 16-year-old girl in Alabama who suffers from diabetes, asthma, and sleep apnea was hit with a book by her teacher after she fell asleep in class … and a 12-year-old girl was threatened with expulsion from an Orlando private school unless she changed the look of her natural hair…

“In each of these scenarios — and in others across the country — African American girls were on the receiving end of punitive, zero-tolerance policies that subjected them to violence, arrest, suspension and/or expulsion.”
—Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected (6)

The Solutions

Defund the Police

We believe and trust survivors. We support defunding the police and reallocating public dollars to community services because that’s what survivors want. In the Alliance for Safety and Justice’s “Crime Survivors Speak” (9) survey:

  • 61% of crime victims said they prefer shorter prison sentences and more spending on rehabilitation and prevention services.
  • by a margin of 3:1, crime victims prefer holding accountable those who commit crimes by options other than prisons, such as rehabilitation, mental health treatment, drug treatment, community supervision, or community service
  • By a margin of 15 to 1, victims prefer increased investments in schools and education over more investments in prisons and jails
  • By a margin of 10 to 1, victims prefer increased investments in job creation over more investments in prisons and jails
  • By a margin of 7 to 1, victims prefer increased investments in mental health treatment over more investments in prisons and jails

Why should police departments have less funding?

First, they don’t need it. Police department budgets have quadrupled since the early 80s. Mental health funding has declined. The outcome is obvious: police respond to all calls for help, large and small, violent and harmless. The more resources at their disposal, the more deadly the results. Departments with military equipment cause twice as many police-involved deaths as those without it. 

Police-Free Schools

The presence of police disrupts learning for Black students. It is possible to keep children safe in schools without criminalizing or causing physical and emotional harm to our most vulnerable kids. We support the Advancement Project‘s recommendations for police-free schools:

  • Divest from law enforcement strategies in schools
  • Deprioritize the reliance on school police
  • Disarm school personnel, including police
  • Decriminalize student behavior
  • Delegitimize policing policing as a safety mechanism
  • Dismantle school policing

Learn more in the Advancement Project study, “We Came to Learn.”

School Justice Programs

Invest in School Mental Health Staff

Eliminate Zero-Tolerance Policies

Take Action Now

Letter Template and Social Media examples

  • Use our templates to send a letter or email to your local, state, and federal officials about:
    • Defunding the police
    • Police sexual misconduct
    • School policing and racist disciplinary practices 

Dear [name]

As your constituent, I’m calling on you to defund the police. I’m asking you to understand why continuing to invest in police harms our community and our children. I demand you consider how our current system of policing invites violence into Black lives on a daily basis. 

While police department budgets have quadrupled since the early 80s, states continue to cut mental health and other social services. The outcome is obvious: police respond to all calls for help, large and small, violent and harmless. The more resources at their disposal, the more deadly the results. Departments with military equipment cause twice as many police-involved deaths as those without it. 

That violence disproportionately ends Black lives. Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. They are 1.3 times more likely to be killed while unarmed than other Americans. 

This heartbreaking reality extends to our children. 

  • In 1997, 10% of public schools had police officers. By 2016, 42% did
  • Black students are 3 times more likely to attend a school with more security staff than mental health staff. 
  • Today, 14 million students are in schools with police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker.

Black students are targeted by this police presence. 

  • While they make up 16% of the student population, Black students represent 31% of all students arrested or referred to law enforcement. 
  • Black girls represent 17% of the school population, but 43% of all girls arrested at school. 
  • There is no evidence that Black students have higher rates of misbehavior. 
  • Police and security personnel in schools can make Black girls feel less safe and less likely to attend school

It is clear that excessive funds lead to excessive force against Black lives. Shift funding away from policing our streets and our schools and invest in the programs that actually make our community safer: mental health services, social workers, victim and survivor advocates, jobs programs, educational opportunities, health centers, and more. These resources prevent crime. They are the non-violent, nurturing, community-building response to conflict that I demand for [my city/school district]

Defund the police. Fund our community. Remove police from schools. Because Black lives matter. 

Sincerely,
[name]

Tweets: 

  • Dear [tag official here]: Defund our police force. Instead, fund our city. Fund mental health services, social workers, victim and survivor advocates, jobs programs, educational opportunities, and health centers. Save Black lives.

 

  • Join me telling our officials to defund the police in [city] and in our schools. Black students are 3X more likely to attend a school with more security staff than mental health staff. Black girls are 17% of the school population, but 43% of all girls arrested at school. https://bit.ly/30RHkJV

 

  • Excessive funds lead to excessive force. We need to defund the police in [city/school] to protect Black lives. Defund and demilitarize the police. Remove police from schools. Tell your officials to act now. https://bit.ly/30RHkJV

 

  • Demand your local officials defund the police. Use this template to customize a letter to send to your mayor, city council members, school board members, and school superintendent. https://bit.ly/30RHkJV
  • Dear [tag official here]: It’s time to defund our police force. Instead, fund our city. Fund mental health services, social workers, victim and survivor advocates, jobs programs, educational opportunities, and health centers. Take these actions to save Black lives in our community.

 

  • Excessive policing extends to our schools. Black students are 3 times more likely than white kids to attend a school with more security staff than mental health staff. 14 million students have school police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker. Join me telling our officials to remove police from schools. https://bit.ly/30RHkJV

 

  • Black girls represent 17% of the school population, but 43% of all girls arrested at school. Police and security personnel in schools can make Black girls feel less safe and less likely to attend school. Project our Black children by telling your local officials to remove police from our schools. https://bit.ly/30RHkJV

 

  • Join me in demanding our local officials defund the police and remove them from our schools. Use this template to customize a letter to send to your mayor, city council members, school board members, and school superintendent. I sent emails to [customize]. I’ll drop their email addresses in the comments below. https://bit.ly/30RHkJV

Videos

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Infographics

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