School safety has been a hotly debated issue everywhere in America, as kids start to emerge from their homes to in-person education. While Gilroy is no exception, there seems to be a similar discussion around students from the view of drugs and drug safety, and if police officers are needed.
The main way to measure police effectiveness is through one lens: are they stopping drugs? That’s the bottom line. And the answer is no. Of course police are not stopping drugs, because any kid will simply not do it when the police are around. Drug rates aren’t lower; kids are getting smarter. This is shown through not only the statistics around police rates and the usage of punishments.
Studies have shown for almost 40 years we have known that police forces have no positive effect on drug use. Not only in schools, but on our streets. Many think that the War On Drugs was a mistake, but we still institute the same policies. In addition, look at the punishment used. Fines are only inconveniences if you cannot pay. It could simply be mandated for offenders to attend therapy and mental health institutions. Fines are only a headache on your wallet and nothing else.
So, why do kids take drugs, and how can we stop them? The reason why many kids take drugs is that they cannot cope with their reality. I don’t blame them. They are doomed to live in a world where they either work till their last breath for scraps or they become rich by exploiting others. The joy they hold is behind a paywall they can barely climb. Nearly every social institution is seemingly created in spite of them rather than for them. And what can they do? Simply go to school, which is not catered to their own interests, and watch as the older generation burns down the world for little more than money and political status. I would start to lose my mind a little too. There is very little recourse we can give them to convince them the world can be better, so they decide to do what they can to tolerate the world we live in now.
What can we do about it? First, expand mental health resources for kids. Currently, even if SRO pushes kids to mental health facilities (a strong if), they are understaffed and underfunded. This would likely lead kids to regress back to taking drugs. But the best thing we can do to stop kids from doing drugs, is to make them less afraid. Activist groups have proposed the idea of School Safety Coaches, which will do the jobs of cops without the threat of fines or arrest. This way, kids feel safe talking to them about issues that surround them without feeling oppressed by the state. This is not a crazy concept. A group of dads in Louisiana did exactly that, when they felt police officers were not doing their job. They didn’t arrest the kids or punish them in any way. They simply broke up physical altercations and listened to them. As a result, not only did drug rates decrease, but more severe consequences of doing drugs also decreased like gang violence.
Let’s get something straight. Police are not there to stop kids from doing drugs. They are there to assuage your concerns. You feel the anxiety of sending your kids somewhere where you cannot control, understandably so. The police give an impression of justice, when anyone can tell from decades of history that justice is not only in the eye of the beholder, but the wallet of the beholder. Gilroy needs to be better. At the end of the day, those who do not understand history are only doomed to repeat it.
Naka Elelleh is an aspiring writer from Gavilan College. If you have any comments, questions and concerns, please feel free to reach out to [email protected]