Astudy by University of Buffalo researchers finds that increased security at high schools across the nation has unintended negative consequences, especially for African-American students.
The presence of metal detectors, armed security guards and surveillance cameras hinder learning. Their disparate use in predominantly African-American schools also contributes to pushing Black students disproportionately into the school-to-prison pipeline.
Among the findings, the study found that the security measures used in predominantly Black schools went “above and beyond the level of misbehavior and crime in those schools.” Consequently, those students reported feeling less safe.
Another study, reported by the National Institute of Health, said there’s a lack of sufficient evidence to support the claim that metal detectors reduce the risk of student violence, at the cost of creating an environment in which students feel safe.
Race is a key factor throughout the University of Buffalo study. The researchers found that Black students are six times more likely to walk through a metal detector when entering school than White students.
Communities and organizations nationwide are voicing opposition to the metal detectors in schools.
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board is under pressure from parents, educators, and activists who demand a moratorium on daily random weapon searches in middle and high schools, the Washington Post reports.
“On a daily basis we will be planting seeds that say you are dangerous, you are a potential threat to others and you cannot be trusted,” parent Keisha Mitchell told the board at a meeting.
Furthermore, the searches are tantamount to racial profiling, others protest to the school board members. The Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is leading a petition drive against metal detectors in schools. It has received more than 3,000 signatures so far.
This debate is also raging on the East Coast, in the nation’s largest school district. According to the Los Angeles Times, almost 90,000 high school students in New York City get scanned each day for weapons. Opponents point out that nearly half of the city’s Black students get scanned, compared to just 14 percent of White students.