Savana Redding and her mother, April, are plaintiffs in the case Safford Unified School District v. Redding, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court today. The Court ruled that school officials violated Savana’s constitutional rights when they strip searched her based on a classmate’s uncorroborated accusation that she previously possessed ibuprofen. Savana was 13-years-old at the time of the incident.
People of all ages expect to have the right to privacy in their homes, belongings, and most importantly, their persons. But for far too long, students have been losing these rights the moment they step foot onto public school property — a lesson I learned firsthand when I was strip-searched by school officials just because another student who was in trouble pointed the finger at me. I do not believe that school officials should be allowed to strip-search kids in school, ever. And though the U.S. Supreme Court did not go quite so far, it did rule that my constitutional rights were violated when I was strip-searched based on nothing more than a classmate’s uncorroborated accusation that I had given her ibuprofen. I’m happy for the decision and hope it helps make sure that no other kids will have to experience what I went through.
Strip searches are a traumatic intrusion of privacy. Forcing children to remove their clothes for bodily inspection is not a tool that school officials should have at their disposal. Yet, until today, the law was apparently unclear, potentially allowing for the most invasive of searches based on the least of suspicions. Everyday parents caution their children about the importance of not talking to strangers, looking both ways before crossing the street, and following directions at school. But I imagine they never think to warn them that a school official, acting on a hunch, may force them to take their clothes off in the name of safety. And now, thankfully, they won’t have to.
Our fundamental rights are only as strong as the next generation believes them to be, and I am humbled to have had a part in preserving and promoting the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights.