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New study: Police in schools need more training

Jamie Martines
| Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, 12:00 p.m.

School resource officers, police officers assigned to work in schools, need more training when it comes to interacting with girls of color, according to a new study by the Georgetown Law Center and the National Black Women's Justice Institute.

The report found that black girls are 2.6 times as likely to be referred to school resource officers, or SROs, on campus as their white classmates. In addition, black girls are almost four times as likely to get arrested at school.

"Even as awareness of school-to-confinement pathways for girls has increased, and shocking images of SROs confronting black and Latina girls have continued to surface, little research has focused on ways to improve school-based safety for girls of color," said Monique W. Morris, the report's lead author, president of the National Black Women's Justice Institute.

The authors of the report said that training for officers and educators focused on race, gender issues and children's mental health could help reduce this disparity.

There are only 21 states that require school resource officers to receive training related to working with young people. Only 19 states require formal agreements between schools and police departments outlining the roles of school resource officers, the report said.

"Girls of color deserve to feel safe in our schools, and SROs need support and training to help that happen," said Rebecca Epstein co-author of the report and executive director of Georgetown Law's Center on Poverty and Inequality. "This report offers key steps toward that goal."

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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