Sunday, March 29, 2009

Police Dog Inspections At Schools: Necessary And Realistic?

From the Principal of suburban New Jersey's Millburn High School:
“The whole community in general is motivated academically,” Mr. Miron said. “But when you have 1,400 students in a school, to think that teenagers aren’t going to make mistakes, or that we’re somehow immune from problems every suburban and urban school is faced with, is just unrealistic.”

Student violence is a feared part of high school, as it is part of, say, going to a bank. But, for the kids attending a school with police supervision, what could be worse? Isn't security monitoring by police the ultimate in school supervision? Doesn't it signal a failure by a school to nurture a safe and secure environment where learning will happen?

As one student says,
“There were cops strolling around all week,”... “It was kind of distracting, sitting in class with cops walking by” and that most school students think the inspections are unnecessary "because most of the incidents involving drug or alcohol happened outside of school"."

I suppose what's new here as highlighted in this New York Times article is that such a well-regarded suburban high school had to resort to calling the police for drug-sniffing dog inspections.

Of course, parents and teachers don't want drugs in schools. Illegal drugs have long been a problem. Society as a whole should try to make schools safer in every way rather than less safe. It's necessary for students to know that there are consequences for bad behavior.

At some point, kids stop "telling the teacher" after another kid pushes them around the playground. What teachers need to convey is that kids can still "tell the teacher" when they need to. Parents are mainly responsible for their underage kids' social behavior. That's what parents are supposed to do.

But there also could be sinister consequences with the prospect of teachers intruding too much into the lives of students and the unofficial, personal dramas of their high school years. Teachers can't stalk students. In reality, teachers try to nurture a safe environment for learning, while students need to realize they can be punished. Teachers are professionals with limited working hours. They also have limited patience and can't be held responsible for illegal behavior by students, outside the school classroom and grounds.

But what more intimidating threat than police presence can a school make? Security monitoring by police dogs must be the ultimate in school supervision. What if teachers need to further curtail the activities of students, what more could a school do and still care about educating students? Can schools afford all the security they desire?

Perhaps the school is merely practicing self-defence, calling the police for help, as an accident victim might need help. Do police dog inspections help make schools safer from drugs and better places in which to learn? Does police security make kids feel safer and better able to learn?

Perhaps if many police departments around the country need guard dogs to go to schools that can call them up and ask for drug inspections with guard dogs, it might explain a question I posed in a previous blog entry, after I noticed a lot of ads for guard dogs.

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