Keep Schools from Criminalizing Kids

Minor student misbehavior should be handled within the school setting — not the criminal justice system. When police officers are in our schools writing students criminal tickets, students are more likely to be pushed into the justice system instead of guided towards the positive behaviors that can help promote lifetime success.

Each year, many of the Texas children who come into contact with the criminal justice or juvenile justice system enter it through our public schools. This phenomenon known as the "school-to-prison pipeline” occurs when discipline actions lead to immediate or later involvement with the justice system, whether through school-based citations, arrests, or discipline practices that remove kids from the classroom instead of redirect student behavior. Police officers were placed in schools to protect students’ safety, but these days schools rely more and more on police officers to address discipline in the classroom. Officers have been found to ticket children for offenses as minor as chewing gum, using inappropriate language, or being disruptively noisy on the school bus. A choice to ticket a child is a choice against redirecting or teaching positive behavior in a more constructive way. As our state criminalizes youthful misbehavior, it misses opportunities to prepare children to be successful adults.

To read and download the full policy brief click here.