Children and youth learn best in school. Research shows that arrests of students in school decrease the likelihood of successful graduation and increase the risk for negative life outcomes. Policies that increase collaboration between schools and police can reduce the unnecessary use of student arrests for behaviors that could be managed effectively in the school without police involvement. Such collaboration can also promote student success and reduce the financial and social costs of children entering into the juvenile justice system.
This year Connecticut Voices for Children helped to make significant progress in improving collaboration between schools and police. Thanks to our arrest report and online school discipline database, data are more available and accessible than ever.
Over the next year, we’ll be diving deeper into student arrest data in school districts, and looking at more recent data across the state. Together with the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, we took a look at arrest rates in New Britain, a district highlighted for its high arrest rates. In New Britain, there were 15.8 arrests per thousand students in the 2011 school year, a rate more than twice the state average (5.7 arrests per thousand ) and higher than the rate in socioeconomically similar districts (9.4 arrests per thousand in District Reference Group I).
Our new fact sheet explores student arrest data in New Britain and proven strategies that districts across Connecticut can use to reduce unnecessary student arrests. Already, New Britain is working towards reducing their student arrest rate through involvement with the state’s “Right Response Network,” which aims to “improve school disciplinary systems …and to reduce out of school disciplinary sanctions and referrals to court for school misbehavior.” We commend New Britain for taking this important step.
In addition, the New London Parents Association recently released a School Discipline Report focused on exploring data particular to New London. Grassroots work like this in communities across Connecticut is crucially important to reducing the use of unnecessarily harsh school discipline policies and keeping kids where they belong – in school.