Study: Mass. School Police Arresting Students For Routine Disciplinary Problems

In October 2007, a 14-year-old boy at Kennedy Middle School in Springfield did something 14-year-old boys are known to do: he got fresh with a teacher. But what happened next is part of a growing debate about police in schools.

According to police reports, the boy was called into the teacher’s office. He refused, and bounced a basketball in the hallway. Then a police officer stationed in the school got involved, ordering the boy to go with the teacher. He refused again and slammed a door.

What began as a case of back-talk and bad behavior ended with the boy being cuffed, arrested, hauled downtown and charged with “disturbing a lawful assembly.” Which raises a big question: is this the best way to maintain order and discipline in a school?

Once a rarity, so-called school resource officers are now positioned in 35 percent¬†of American schools. A new study of arrests in Massachusetts’ largest school systems finds these officers making arrests for routine disciplinary problems that might otherwise be handled with detention, or a phone call home.

You can read the study, below:


  • Lael Chester, executive director, Citizens for Juvenile Justice
  • The Hon. Jay Blitzman, first justice, Juvenile Court Department, ¬†Middlesex County
  • Lee McGurie, chief communications officer, Boston Public Schools

Other stories from this show:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Host Meghna Chakrabarti introduces us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and brings us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m.

  • Listen: Weekdays, 3 p.m. on 90.9 FM
  • Live Call-In: (800) 423-TALK
  • Listener Voicemail: (617) 358-0607
Most Popular
This site is best viewed with: Firefox | Internet Explorer 9 | Chrome | Safari