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Study: Having a cop at school makes students feel ‘significantly safer, less stressed’

Following a controversial move by the Toronto Public Schools to get rid of police officers in its schools, a new study shows that doing just that is actually be a pretty bad idea.

In August, the district caved to Black Lives Matter and immigration activists who demanded school-based officers be removed from buildings. The activists claimed scrapping the police presence was needed to “combat perceived anti-black racism in education.” (And it’s not just a Canadian thing.)

Toronto’s School Resource Officers program had been in place since 2008.

Research from Carleton University says keeping officers in schools makes students feel safer, less stressed, and helps “build positive relationships with law enforcement,” the Toronto Star reports. Data from the Peel region (west of Toronto) was culled from 1,300 student surveys, and interviews with school administrators and police.

“Every single one of these different groups (said) students feel safer at school,” said Carleton business professor Linda Duxbury, one of the study’s lead researchers. “The goal of the Peel program is to make people feel safer in schools so they can learn more . . . every single source of data said it (met that goal).”

Black Lives Matter criticized the study saying it should have focused on the “well-being of racialized students in particular.”

“This (program) is essentially police officers being able to extract information from minors without their parents being present,” BLM’s Sandy Hudson said.

Nonetheless, Professor Duxbury summarized the study in another Star article:

–“All students . . . indicated that they felt significantly safer at school and less stressed and anxious” with an SRO in their midst.

–Those who had been victims of bullying and/or violence (16 per cent of students surveyed) reported feeling significantly safer after experiencing the SRO program for five months, both at school and in their commute to school, with fewer students skipping classes because they’d been bullied or feared they would be bullied.

–Both students and staff expressed feeling safer because the SROs could defuse problematic situations or stop them before they escalated.

–Staff benefited from police support because they spent less time on disciplinary matters and property damage.

–Because SROs are more likely to recommend diversion when appropriate, students were more likely to avoid criminal charges.

–The program reduced pressure on front line police services with school administrators making fewer 911 calls when trouble arose and, consequently, faster response times by cops for the region in general.

–Proactive rather than reactive policing allowed the SROs to more effectively prevent crimes and avert victimization of students, making for a safer learning environment.

–The presence of SROs increased the chances that students, particularly those with mental health issues, could access the help they needed from social services and health-care systems.

Duxbury chided the Toronto district for “making a habit” out of “getting it wrong before all the facts are in,” citing the recent hate crime hoax in which an 11-year-old student lied about someone trying to cut off her hijab.

Read both Star articles.

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IMAGE: Lifetime Stock/Shutterstock.com

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