A new report aims to elevate youth voices as part of efforts to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. It outlines issues raised by young Hoosiers, and possible solutions to reduce trauma caused by policing and school discipline.
The Children's Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana gathered youth with community leaders to discuss policing and schools at a roundtable last fall. The report highlights some of the most common issues raised in those discussions – including harsh consequences for minor behaviors, a lack of cultural understanding, and police focusing on enforcement instead of providing resources in schools.
JauNae Hanger is the president of CPLI. She said she hopes the report helps more people learn how to more effectively work with young people.
"We need everybody who makes decisions about children to understand adolescents," Hanger said.
New Breed of Youth, or New B.O.Y, is a mentorship and youth development organization. New B.O.Y founder Kareem Hines said the roundtable itself has already had an impact on the youth he works with.
Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues.
He said many distrust the police after traumatizing experiences in their communities or school, but the roundtable talks gave them the opportunity to speak their truth.
"For the first time in some of these youth's lives, they were able to talk to police in a non-threatening way. They were able to talk to stakeholders from the school system in a non-[authoritative] manner, where it wasn't punitive, they weren't in trouble," Hines said.
The report recommends communities reduce that trauma by investing in more student support and creating clearer guidelines for school-based police.
It also says zero tolerance policies should be eliminated, and school staff should focus on building relationships with students and enhancing their own cultural competence.