The school-to-juvenile justice pipeline: Factors associated with the use of school-based law enforcement officers by public schools

Teresa LLanira Sarmiento-Brooks, Fordham University

Abstract

In response to the mass school shootings of the mid-1990s and public perception that violence in schools had increased at an alarming rate, federal and local zero-tolerance policies were implemented in public schools. These policies have contributed to the creation of a school-to-juvenile justice pipeline. In this study, one system in the pipeline is examined: school-based law enforcement officers. The purpose of this study was to explore whether type of violent and non-violent incidents committed by students and the violence prevention strategies used by the schools were associated with the presence of school-based law enforcement officers, and whether this differed by school locale or by school type. ^ A secondary data analysis was conducted utilizing data from the School Survey on Crime and Safety 2000 that was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. In this national survey of U.S. public schools, elementary and secondary principals completed a self-administered questionnaire measuring the dependent variable of the presence of school-based law enforcement officers and eleven independent variables (number of violent incidents with and without weapons, number of incidents of sexual assault, number of incidents of theft or larceny, number of incidents of illegal drug distribution, number of student disciplinary problems, number of school monitoring practices of students, student-teacher ratio, number of mental health professionals in the school, and the number of violence prevention services), and the potential moderating variables. ^ Data were collected between March and August of 2000. The sample included 705 elementary schools (43.5% had an officer present), 217 middle schools (24.7% had an officer present), 168 secondary schools (24.9% had an officer present), and 68 schools with combined grades levels (6.9% had an officer present). ^ Logistic regression analyses indicated that presence of a school-based law enforcement officer was associated with: (1) student disciplinary problems; (2) number of zero-tolerance monitoring practice of students; (3) number of incidents of theft/larceny that occurred; (4) number of school-based mental health professionals; (5) student enrollment size; and (6) percentage of minority students enrolled. Five variables had no association with presence of a law enforcement officer: (1) number of incidents of student violence with a weapon; (2) number of incidents of student violence without a weapon; (3) number of sexual assaults; (4) number of incidents of student distribution of illegal drugs; and (5) the student-to-teacher ratio. The school's location (urbanicity) and the type of curriculum did not moderate the relationships between any of the study measures and presence of a law enforcement officer. ^ These findings support the need for federal policies to reflect actual prevalence of violent and non-violent incidents committed by students in schools, rather than perceived levels of such behaviors. Because both school-based law enforcement officers and school-based mental health providers work in schools, these professional should work collaboratively to address student incidents of violence and disciplinary issues. ^ Key words: schools; law enforcement officer; school-to-prison pipeline; zero-tolerance. ^

Subject Area

Social Work|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Teresa LLanira Sarmiento-Brooks, "The school-to-juvenile justice pipeline: Factors associated with the use of school-based law enforcement officers by public schools" (January 1, 2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3309585.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3309585

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