In Report on School Safety, ACLU Urges Mass. Officials to Resist "Quick Fix" Solutions

September 8, 1999 12:00 am

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BOSTON — Seeking to forestall “quick fix” school safety measures that feed a climate of fear, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts is sending school superintendents a copy of a new briefing paper, “Safety in Schools: Are We On The Right Track?”

The document was compiled by the ACLU’s Bill of Rights Education Project in response to the siege-like mentality that has affected schools around the country in the wake of the school shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Co. This mentality, the ACLU said, has led to the adoption of “quick fix” measures that feed the climate of fear and could bring about more problems than it solves.

“Safety in Schools” provides an overview of the nature and scope of school violence today; an analysis of many of the most common school violence prevention measures; and a summary of more beneficial approaches that see young people not as potential problems, but as resources in the creation of safe schools.

The document points out that school today is still one of the safest places for children and teenagers in our society. “Safety in Schools” also examines the various security devices that schools are installing and the unprecedented crack down on student expression, appearance, and rights to privacy and due process occurring across the country.

“The more restrictions schools impose on students, the more alienated students are likely to feel, and the less involved in the learning process,” the report says.

“Whether or not you believe that metal detectors and surveillance cameras are necessary to protect your school in the short term, proposals that deal with root causes of student disaffection and engage students in democratic practices will, in the long term, be more effective for both the school and the nation.”

Through its Bill of Rights Education Project, the ACLU has worked with students in the Commonwealth for the past dozen years; its recommendations are based in part on this experience. The project’s director is Nancy Murray.

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