Target: Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
Goal: Reduce the need for disciplinary measures by improving counseling and support services for students
Disciplining students with violence places them in danger. What’s more, when inflicted by police officers armed with high voltage electric weapons like Tasers, such measures raise serious about questions about the fulfillment of schools’ primary responsibility: education. Encourage Secretary Duncan to prevent police violence against students by expanding counseling and support services in public schools.
Tragic accounts of violent disciplinary tactics nationwide stress the gravity and urgency of this issue. Seventeen-year-old Noe Niño de Rivera suffered severe brain hemorrhage and was placed in a fifty-two day medically induced coma after a police officer used a Taser on him. In the security video, the fight seems to be over when the police arrive at Cedar Creek High School in Texas, and de Rivera can be seen actually backing away when the officer shocks him.
For the safety of police officers, school faculty, and other students, individuals must be disarmed and restrained to prevent them from endangering others. However, Tasers can be a lethal way of doing this, according to an Amnesty International study, which shows that since 2001, 550 people were killed accidentally when shocked either during arrest or in prison. Though normal, healthy adults have died after being shocked, those who are intoxicated or suffering from heart disease or other serious illnesses are particularly vulnerable, according to a 2011 Justice Department report. These disturbing accounts point to the urgent need for an alternative way of disarming non-compliant individuals without putting them at risk.
Until an alternative is found, we cannot shy away from root causes that fuel these violent, truly scary encounters, ones that make schools call in police aid in the first place. Programs that help students cope with anger and crack down on bullying can help reduce the need for police intervention. Students must feel safe and supported, and that their school community is a place first and foremost of learning.
Please sign the petition below, and empower school faculty and students to stop the violence.
Dear Secretary Duncan,
I am writing in order to bring your attention to recent accounts of violent disciplinary measures used on high school students. Police officers, brought in to restrain students in violent situations, often employ violent methods often involving high voltage electric weapons like Tasers to restrain students. Touted as a non-deadly way to protect officers, faculty, and other students, Tasers can cause death in healthy adults, according to a 2011 Justice Department report, posing a particular risk to intoxicated persons or those suffering from heart disease or other serious illnesses.
These reports point to the urgent need for an alternative way of disarming non-compliant individuals without putting them at risk. However, until we can come up with a safe alternative, we must address the root causes that fuel this frightening violence.
I ask that you use your leadership to expand counseling and support services for students. Programs that both help students cope with anger and crack down on bullying can help reduce the need for police intervention in the first place. Students must feel safe and supported, and that their school community is a place first and foremost of learning. I urge you to empower faculty and students alike to stop the violence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Junglecat via Wikimedia Commons