Police Are Being Removed From Schools for Sexual Assault.

Morrison71

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In 2014, Dothan, Alabama police officer Lanice Bonds pleaded guilty to having sex with a 16-year-old student from Dothan High School, where he worked as a school resource officer (SRO) for over six years. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Three years later, at the same school, another resource officer, Adrian Folmar, was arrested for engaging in a sex act with a 17-year-old student. As investigations progressed, another victim was found, and this time, she was 14 years old.

Bonds and Folmar appear to be part of a wider pattern of school resource officers being removed from their positions due to sexual misconduct. In late 2021, an anonymous source reached out to DAME with data collected from local news reports. Within that data alone, which DAME fact-checked, at least 440 school children have been sexually abused by school police at their school in the last 20 years. After consulting experts in the field and assessing the accuracy of this small sample size, DAME concludes that incidents of police sexual misconduct in schools are likely underreported.
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This data reveals the abuses of power police are capable of in an educational setting, despite arguments that police make kids in schools safer by Republican elected officials like Senator Ted Cruz. While the reality of school shootings calls for action and new policy, current policies to place police in schools raise questions about accountability, access to victims, and power dynamics between children and state authorities. The numbers cited above indicate that there is widespread systemic abuse of power by police in schools, thus disputing the idea that police make children in school safer.

Both Bonds and Folmar were charged with the same Class B felony in Alabama: a school employee having sexual contact with a student under the age of 19 years. In the case of Bonds, this charge was disputed with the claim that the offending resource officer was not a school employee; rather, he was employed by the City of Dothan as a police officer and was paid by the city.
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According to court documents, Bonds presented a memo from the Dothan chief of police that states that resource officers "are obligated to the Chain of Command of the Dothan Police Department and not to the administration of the school to which they are assigned." Though Bonds' appeal failed and he ultimately pleaded guilty, his defense demonstrates one of the problems with stationing police officers in schools—though this varies state by state and county by county, SROs are generally accountable to the police station and the city they work for rather than the school.

Andrea J. Ritchie, a police misconduct attorney and organizer whose writing, litigation, and advocacy have focused on the policing and criminalization of women of color, explains that this makes it difficult for police in schools to be held accountable for misconduct.

"Generally speaking, in my experience, school resource officers are under the control of the police department and not under the control of the school," Ritchie says. "In one case in New York City, the principal intervened in incidents involving the police and a student, and the principal got arrested. So it's really clear in those instances who's in charge, it's the cop in the police department. So they're accountable to nobody."
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The hiring of resource police officers in schools started in the 1950s, but the practice only became widespread in the 1990s. The presence of SROs in education establishments has widely been credited to the 1999 Columbine shooting, supported by the idea that officers in schools are able to protect students from an active shooter as school shootings became more commonplace. After school shootings, it is routine for Republican politicians to demand armed cops be stationed in schools, claiming this will make children safer. However, according to a report by Learning for Justice, zero-tolerance policies spurred SRO programs in schools in the 1980s, in response to the perceived threat that school-based crime was on the rise.

In 2017, police officers were present in at least half of schools nationwide.
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There isn't much research about police sexual misconduct in schools, but some scholars have tried to make sense of the issue. F. Chris Curran writes that SROs are rarely arrested, but when they are, it's usually because of sexual misconduct. According to 2017 research by Philip Stinson and Adam M. Watkins using the 48 search terms developed by Stinson on Google News Alerts, there were 32 arrests of school resource officers between 2005 and 2011 for sexual misconduct. Over half (56 percent) of these incidents occurred with students in the officers' own schools. A study commissioned by the US Department of Education revealed that out more than 30,000 public schools that had police present during this period, there were fewer than five arrests of school resource officers per year for sexual misconduct. Stinson and Watkins' study also emphasizes that police officers tend to not arrest other officers, often ignoring minor transgressions by their colleagues, whereas regular citizens doing similar transgressions would be arrested for their crimes. The data obtained by DAME suggests the number of sexual misconduct by SROs cases is much greater.
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Ritchie says data like this is likely just the tip of the iceberg. According to the author and researcher, who has written a book about police violence against Black girls and trans folks, we are only able to access around 25 percent of police sexual misconduct cases in schools because of a gap in research around gender-based violence experienced by Black, brown, Indigenous, queer, and trans young people.

"Three quarters of rapes aren't reported; imagine how much higher that number is when the person that sexually assaulted you is the person you're supposed to report it to," Ritchie said. "I want to emphasize just how routine and mundane this is."

Research on sexual violence perpetrated by SROs is even more scarce, and Ritchie suggests that this is because most of the victims are likely to be girls of color.
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In the wake of the Uvalde shooting in Texas, it's easy to demand the placement of armed police in schools for the protection of children who should have the simple privilege of going to school safely. However, Uvalde is the latest example of how authorities work to police civilians rather than protect them: after failing to stop the shooter from getting inside the school, ICE was called to the scene. Though federal immigration officials have declared undocumented parents won't be detained, the possibility of detainment and deportation during such a tragedy is unhelpful and terrifying.

School shootings are, unfortunately, a reality that Americans must face. However, the suggestion of placing police in schools—and the power police have over children, particularly those of color—should be thoroughly questioned.

In Dothan High School, where two SROs were removed from their positions for sexual misconduct in 2014 and 2018, another pattern can be observed. While removal of officers is possible, there isn't a system or a reporting mechanism that prevents new SROs from committing new cases of sexual misconduct. For Ritchie, after 20 years of advocacy against police violence against women and girls, the only solution is to take cops out of schools.
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KFSuperStar

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“DAME fact-checked, at least 440 school children have been sexually abused by school police at their school in the last 20 years.”

80 million students in public schools alone.
 

Morrison71

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There is no evidence of cops at schools having any benefits. They only bring harm. Defund the police, for real.

John Oliver's video on SROs was only a month ago.
 
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Morrison71

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“DAME fact-checked, at least 440 school children have been sexually abused by school police at their school in the last 20 years.”

80 million students in public schools alone.
And what percent of those have cops in schools? You don’t know, so stfu.
at least 440 school children have been sexually abused by school police at their school in the last 20 years. After consulting experts in the field and assessing the accuracy of this small sample size, DAME concludes that incidents of police sexual misconduct in schools are likely underreported."
 
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Hawkeyenuts66

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And what percent of those have cops in schools? You don’t know, so stfu.
at least 440 school children have been sexually abused by school police at their school in the last 20 years. After consulting experts in the field and assessing the accuracy of this small sample size, DAME concludes that incidents of police sexual misconduct in schools are likely underreported."
So 22 students per year(still 22 too many) have been abused by cops, yet at least 181 teachers have been charged with child sex crimes this year and you say nothing. Sounds like you are barking up the wrong tree and should take your own advice and stfu.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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We can never completely zero out the risk of sex abuse of children.

Children have to have adults around them and if we're going to have schools they have to have adults who are not their parents.

We can help mitigate the risk by the obvious background checks but also putting in place polices to prevent adults being alone with children.

The biggest difficulty of course is teens because they are often given a degree of freedom of movement and they may want (at the time) the sexual relationship. So unless we are tracking them with GPS or something like that there is very little to prevent them from personally traveling to meet up with an adult for sex.
 

TylerJ76

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And what percent of those have cops in schools? You don’t know, so stfu.
at least 440 school children have been sexually abused by school police at their school in the last 20 years. After consulting experts in the field and assessing the accuracy of this small sample size, DAME concludes that incidents of police sexual misconduct in schools are likely underreported."

How many teachers have been convicted of sexual abuse?
 
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AreWeCross

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If OP is implying police officers should be removed from schools because of the conduct of some officers, then wouldn't it make sense to remove teachers from schools for the same reason?
 
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WDSMHAWK

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If OP is implying police officers should be removed from schools because of the conduct of some officers, then wouldn't it make sense to remove teachers from schools for the same reason?

You can't really remove all teachers from schools just like you can't remove all priests from the church. Unfortunately you have to identify which ones are abusing their position of authority and remove them as quickly as possible to limit how many people they take advantage of.

The same can't be said for police in schools. Since they are not necessary to the schools primary function and there is plenty of evidence that they do more harm than good (the John Oliver video breaks this down).
 
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seminole97

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Acquaintance of mine is a deputy and SRO at a high school in Okaloosa county. Went with the kids on a field trip to Disney.
Rode the teacups with the kids and a picture was taken. Principal thought he was in a hot tub with the kids and wanted him fired. Situation was explained, but the principal apparently couldn’t acknowledge their error and he was ultimately assigned to another school.

/csb
 
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Jerome Silberman

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“DAME fact-checked, at least 440 school children have been sexually abused by school police at their school in the last 20 years.”

80 million students in public schools alone.

How many teachers have been convicted of sexual abuse?

If OP is implying police officers should be removed from schools because of the conduct of some officers, then wouldn't it make sense to remove teachers from schools for the same reason?

Wut?
 

noleclone2

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So 22 students per year(still 22 too many) have been abused by cops, yet at least 181 teachers have been charged with child sex crimes this year and you say nothing. Sounds like you are barking up the wrong tree and should take your own advice and stfu.
I don’t think those numbers help your cause bro. Considering many schools do not even have a SRO, off the top of my head there is probably a 200:1 ratio of teachers to SROs so 22 from very small pool compared to 181 from entire teacher pool means SROs are messing with kids at a much higher rate.
 

ping72

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So 22 students per year(still 22 too many) have been abused by cops, yet at least 181 teachers have been charged with child sex crimes this year and you say nothing. Sounds like you are barking up the wrong tree and should take your own advice and stfu.

So by your numbers it sounds like police officers are MUCH more likely to abuse students. Not sure how you drew a different conclusion on that. 😵‍💫
 

Hawkeyenuts66

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I don’t think those numbers help your cause bro. Considering many schools do not even have a SRO, off the top of my head there is probably a 200:1 ratio of teachers to SROs so 22 from very small pool compared to 181 from entire teacher pool means SROs are messing with kids at a much higher rate.
You're correct, I misread the numbers as a total over a 20 year period and not at a single school.
 

ping72

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I don’t think those numbers help your cause bro. Considering many schools do not even have a SRO, off the top of my head there is probably a 200:1 ratio of teachers to SROs so 22 from very small pool compared to 181 from entire teacher pool means SROs are messing with kids at a much higher rate.

A couple years ago there were 3.65mil teachers in the US.

SRO estimates are 14-20k.

So the 200:1 is pretty accurate.