Surveillance of students and deprivation of the civil liberties that they should enjoy has been a recurring theme on this blog as the Youth and Surveillance categories reflect. In August, I tried to summarize some of my concerns in a post, “U.S. schools: grooming students for a surveillance state,” but there have been other posts since then on the topic, too. Today, I see this post about the role of police and “safety officers” in NYC schools by NY1’s Dean Meminger:
Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers student Mireya Bardales says she admitted to school safety agents she squirted pepper spray on her classroom floor. But she says the agents went over board.
“They arrested me, put the handcuffs on me and took me to the precinct,” Bardales said. “I was scared as hell.”
“I found it wrong that they put handcuffs on her. Do you know what it is like to be in school and see us young people treated like criminals,” said fellow student Genesis Rodriguez.
The New York Civil Liberties Union says too many students are having the cuffs slapped on them by school safety agents as well as police officers stationed at the city’s 1,600 public school buildings.
All this week, the organization handed out “know your rights” pamphlets to students around the city.
“School safety officers have the right to stop a kid, detain a kid, frisk a kid, search a kid, handcuff a kid, and arrest a kid. And they do it all the time,” said NYCLU Advocacy Director Udi Ofer.
Read more on NY1.
Should school safety officers have to right to do these things at their discretion? I don’t think so. In my opinion, unless there’s an imminent threat of a bomb or fear for personal safety, there is no reason to frisk a student without some Fourth Amendment protections. Nor is there any excuse for arresting a child for normal child misbehavior.
If we treat them like criminals, let’s not feign surprise when they grow up to act like criminals.