Teaching, Counseling, and Law Enforcement Functions in South Carolina High Schools: A Study on the Perception of Time Spent among School Resource Officers

By Ivey, Caroletta A. Shuler | International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, July-December 2012 | Go to article overview

Teaching, Counseling, and Law Enforcement Functions in South Carolina High Schools: A Study on the Perception of Time Spent among School Resource Officers


Ivey, Caroletta A. Shuler, International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences


Introduction

In the wake of tragic incidents, such as school shootings, the subject of school violence has gotten more attention in the past decade than in previous years. According to Bardick and Bernes (2008), children may demonstrate a number of externalizing and internalizing behaviors throughout childhood, yet not every child was at risk of violence. A child who demonstrates a number of violent behaviors with increasing severity, frequency, intensity, and duration may be at a serious risk of violence. Young children's aggressive behaviors (for example, hitting, kicking, verbal insults, and threats) had been linked to serious violence perpetration in adolescence (for example, homicide, assault) (Singer & Flannery, 2000) and to domestic violence, criminality, and substance abuse in adults (Farrington, 2005).

Children who react to environmental events with angry and hostile emotions may also act aggressively (Frick & Morris, 2004). According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2011), during the 2009-2010 school year, 433,800 serious disciplinary actions were taken by public schools with physical attacks or fights being 265,100 of these actions. Consequently, There had been a greater percentage of transfers to specialized schools for distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs and weapons (32%) than firearms (29%), alcohol (22%), and fighting (14%), during the 2009-2010 school term (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2011). This decrease of fights on school property may be due to the increased presence of school resource officers in high schools.

Criminal justice tools and personnel play an increasingly important role at nearly every stage of the disciplinary process. Whereas police and security officers in schools were not new phenomenon, school resource officers within schools had become the fastest growing law enforcement field (Brady, Balmer, & Phenix, 2007). School resource officers in schools received training specific to educational settings. A 2004 national survey of teachers reported that 67% of teachers in majority-African American or Hispanic middle and high schools report armed police stationed in their schools (Hirschfield, 2008). However, suburban schools, where 60% of teachers work alongside armed police, were not far behind (Hirschfield, 2008).

Generally, accompanying police and security guards were law enforcement methods like bag searches and video cameras. Among preventive practices, metal detectors and personal searches seem the clearest indications of criminalization since they define students as criminal suspects (Hirschfield, 2008). Not surprisingly, the likelihood of metal detectors positively relates to the prevalence of minority students (DeVoe et al., 2005). School resource officers in schools received training specific to educational settings. However, as on the street, any violations of the law were subject to arrest, and school resource officers were not required to obtain permission from anyone to make an arrest (Devine, 1996; Hagan et al., 2002).

Schools have developed various safety plans that address preventing incidence of violence. These safety plans include the entire community becoming involved in school safety. Plans involving the community brought in local law enforcement within the schools. Plans such as crisis management; zero tolerance zones; environmental structure changes; family inclusion; and school resource officers that included a closer relationship with juvenile authorities, community involvement, and listening to students became necessary. According to Wages (2002), school resource officers had been proposed as one of the key components in combating crime in the nation's schools. The primary goal of a school resource officer had been to work side-by-side with students (K-12 grade) as a role model, mentor, counselor, friend, and teacher (Lott, 1999). The secondary goal of the school resources officer was law enforcement. …

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