Recently there has been many concerns over Missouri’s new law that states that children can now receive felonies for bullying and school fights. Before this law was in effect but it didn’t include fights or bullying and children were only subject to getting a misdemeanor offense. If you are unsure of the huge difference between a felony and a misdemeanor check out this article here. However, the most notable difference is obviously the time that one would serve in these cases, as well as the fact that having a felony on your record makes it nearly impossible to find employment with that type of case on your record.
So, the question is then Why? Why now is Missouri choosing to establish such harsh regulations for situations that are definitely a reality for many schools not only in Missouri but all across the country? Why now is Missouri trying to put such cruel penalties on children who are simply immature and may not know any better?
Probably one of the most disturbing facts about this at whole is the fact that it puts light on what is known as the school to prison pipeline. If you are unfamiliar as to what the school to pipeline system is The New York Civil Liberties Union gives a great explanation as to what is.
The New York Civil Liberties Union states;
School to Prison Pipeline
The School to Prison Pipeline is a nationwide system of local, state and federal education and public safety policies that pushes students out of school and into the criminal justice system. This system disproportionately targets youth of color and youth with disabilities. Inequities in areas such as school discipline, policing practices, high-stakes testing and the prison industry contribute to the pipeline.
The School to Prison Pipeline operates directly and indirectly. Schools directly send students into the pipeline through zero tolerance policies that involve the police in minor incidents and often lead to arrests, juvenile detention referrals, and even criminal charges and incarceration. Schools indirectly push students towards the criminal justice system by excluding them from school through suspension, expulsion, discouragement and high stakes testing requirements.
As I began to read further into what this school to prison pipeline was I realized that it predominantly targets minorities that are in school. The fact that school systems are predicting the likelihood of students being incarcerated as an adult based on their school test scores and behaviors while in school, shows that all these laws they are creating seem to be taking premeditated actions towards getting more minorities in the system. Which in a sense explains the fact of the new law making it considerably harder for minorities to go without getting involved in some type of government system, whether that is juvenile or adult systems. Minorities seem to have increased chances of getting involved in school altercations while in school. Now the reason behind these altercations may vary, but nonetheless, it seems to have the government to be wanting to pinpoint minorities as the issue for the fights and bullying in school, which can not be statistically proven to be all one race that is causing these in Missouri or in the United States period.
It seems now that we are not only going to have to think about our children being stereotyped already by the world on an outside daily basis, but now we will also have to think about our children being targeted in the schools, in which are suppose to help them learn, grow, and be guided into mature adulthood. Instead, we have incredible odds that attempt to stack against our children numbers and punishments that seem to be in the pursuit of keeping them in bondage.
The school to prison ratio in the United States speaks for itself on the true intentions of a government that is suppose to serve and protect us. In an article done by the California Endowment, it states that our tax dollars are spent more towards keeping inmates in prison than they are to actually rehabilitate and educate people. This article goes on to say that the average tax dollars spent to keep one inmate in prison each year is $62,300 versus only $9,100 tax dollars being spent to fund a person’s education. So, then the question becomes who really has our best interest at heart? Is the government claiming to actually be helping or are they just after the money that they get back per prisoner that they keep incarcerated?
Even just looking at the statistics of how many people are incarcerated by race will show you that there is a huge gap of equality when it comes to imprisonment. In this article by The Prison Policy Initiative, it shows that the most incarcerated race is African Americans, with the second being latinos, and the last being white people.
This just all seems to be a bulls eye game, with the main target being to imprison more black and latino people. Although the government can’t come right out and say this, the numbers and statistics don’t lie.
The fact that vast majority of the world wants to point to a problem but doesn’t want to get to the heart of the issue is very disturbing. For starters, more minorities are more vulnerable to getting in trouble at school because of their living situations. There is large majority of minorities that come from single family, impoverished, addicts, and abusive home situations. All in which already put minorities in a disadvantage from the beginning, adding to the fact that minorities are already at a less advantage for receiving the correct help in and outside of school.
A study conducted by the US department of civil rights in an article outlined by NBC News states;
Some of the most striking findings involved discipline: one in five African-American boys – and one in 10 African-American girls – was suspended from school during the study period, the 2009-10 school year.
Overall, African-American students are 3-1/2 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. And 70 percent of students arrested or referred to law enforcement for disciplinary infractions are black or Latino, the study found. Other researchers have found that students who are repeatedly punished by being barred from campus are far more likely to drop out.
All of these little facts contribute to the overall fact that minorities are being expected to end up in prison by the government rather than a civilized and successful person in society. Why otherwise would there be laws put into place that seem to increase the likelihood of this happening?
That leaves us with the question of what do we do now? What do we do now for our minority children? How can we as a community, as a nation ban together to help children who are being counted out before they are even being counted in?
Below are some suggestions of what you could do to possibly help your child/ren or even help someone else’s.
1. Inform them
One of the best thing to give our children is knowledge. We as parents should be the ones educating them on issues, consequences, and actions of the world around us. We need to inform them about the laws, how and why the effect them as individuals. Giving them the know how will protect them from making unnecessary mistakes because they can be more aware of what is going on around them.
2. Teach them
The second best thing after informing them is to teach them. We as parents have to be the ones to teach them the difference between what is wrong and right. We also have to teach them the importance of not handling certain issues in school, and really how to avoid these issues altogether. If we take the initiative to teach them what not to do and how to handle problems before hand, it will prevent us having to teach them the hard way when it’s too late.
3. Keep them Plugged In
The third best thing is to keep your children plugged into any positive outlet that you possibly can in the community. Keeping them plugged into programs, services, or even around people that can be good influences on them could help to stir them in the right direction. In order to do better one must know better, so it is up to us to show our children more positive, productive outcomes that are available to them.
4. Speak Up and Be Aware
This is one that children may not be able to do themselves per say but it is most certainly one that we as parents can do for our children. We have to be more aware of the laws, rules, and regulations that are taking effect in our community, state, and even the country. If we increase our awareness about these things we can have the opportunity to speak up about them and make a difference. Also, with having an increased awareness of the things the government is doing we can prepare ourselves for results that may be detrimental to our children, race, and even our community.
5. Lead By Example
We have to be the ones to lead by example when it comes to our children. We can not count on the schools, government, or anything else in the world to nurture our children. We have to be the ones to take their lives in our hands and create men and women out of them. We have to be the ones to lead an example of how to act, respond, and be in the world that is already against us. Showing them how to positively handle these misfortunes and turn them into fuel for what is good, could be the difference in a child succeeding or failing.
6. Cultivate and Innovate
Lastly, we as minorities are the ones that must cultivate and innovate the changes in which our community and children need. We have to be the ones to take it in our hands to find reliable, positive solutions that will set up our children for success. We have to be the ones to get in the community to help the young men that are being misguided on the streets. We have to be the ones to help little girls understand their worth. We have to be the ones to develop programs that actually will innovate a change for our children. We can not keep sitting back waiting on someone outside of us to come up with solutions to problems they don’t really understand or care too much about.
All I can say is that we need to begin to prepare for an awakening of something that is targeting our young minority men and women, and the longer we sit and do nothing the more children’s lives, our communities, and minorities at whole will be the victims of the system. We are greater than this. We have the power to change. We have the power to overcome, but we as individuals must begin to do our part somehow someway.
This is extremely terrifying to think that our children are being targeted. As a mother of a biracial children who are already seen as black makes me somewhat fearful for the future for my son and daughter.Not because I don’t raise them right but because they are already being targeted to not make it out. However, the faith that I have in God and what he can do far outweighs any fear that man could attempt to put in me.
I encourage any mother to have faith, be aware, and do everything in your power to stir your children in the right direction because if you don’t take your child’s life in your hands, you could be leaving them in the hands of people who want nothing less than to kill, steal, and destroy them.
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