Making Schools Safer and/or Increasing Student Involvement in the Criminal Justice System: A Study of Police Officers in North Carolina Schools

Lucy Sorensen , University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Yinzhi Shen, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Shawn Bushway, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)

In the wake of high-profile school shootings, policymakers have advocated increasing the presence of police officers – commonly known as School Resource Officers (SROs) – in public schools. Others worry, however, that placing more SROs in schools may heighten student contact with juvenile justice and create a path to future involvement in the adult criminal justice system, particularly for racial minority students. The current study uses administrative data from North Carolina to link individual disciplinary and academic records from public schools to individual conviction records. Relying on the rollout of SROs in middle schools between 2005 and 2009, our study estimates the effects of SRO placement on school violence, unlawful possession, student removal, and academic outcomes in the short run. It then traces whether students exposed to SROs in their middle school are more likely to drop out from high school or receive a criminal conviction during young adulthood.

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 Presented in Session 243. Child and Youth Exposures to Criminal Justice Systems