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Virginia struggles to get rid of its school-to-prison reputation

| Dec 8, 2020 | blog

Some children pass through their teen years without incident. They score good grades, stay out of trouble and have no major issues with others. Sometimes, in the same household, lives another teenager whose reality is the exact opposite. These teenagers may struggle with disciplinary problems and school performance. 

Ideally, these children have the opportunity to receive guidance from peers, parents and teachers. Instead, many of these children end up in the hands of police officers. Washington Post shares that the stain of that interaction with law enforcement may remain on the minor’s record for several years. 

Virginia’s bad record

The 2017 article went on to explain that Virginia’s school system ranked among the worst in the country when it came to criminalizing students. These schools sent children to courts and police officers three times more likely than the national average. Incidents that led to police involvement included ignoring responsibilities and rowdiness. Disorderly behavior remained the most common complaint. 

Virginia’s efforts to clear the air

According to NBC 12, Virginia recently pushed through several measures to rid itself of its bad reputation. It now no longer insists that schools report disorderly conduct as a misdemeanor. Instead, school officials have more freedom to decide how best to handle situations as they arise. Unfortunately, many schools may turn to expulsions. School officials may also reconsider whether to charge children with assault when they get into physical altercations with other school children. 

Supporters of these new initiatives point out that children need more support and less criminalization in school. Putting students behind bars ad staining records may only worsen any ongoing issues and further disenfranchise the student for life.