Can school resource officers deter the rising school violence occurring across America?
The role of a school resource officer is to maintain school safety and establish a positive relationship with the student body. This is a powerful approach for such an individual who prioritizes peace and safety for school environments.
Given the rising hostility toward teachers and other staff, I am sure that such peace officers will be in demand.
Based on my experience, I firmly believe that resource officers offer much value for any school environment, including:
Safety and Security
Ongoing school shootings and mass killings across the nation have made it necessary for inside protection in modern day school buildings. Every few months, we all are subject to hearing about a school incident involving shooters as young as 10 years old bringing guns to school.
You see schoolteachers getting verbally threatened as well as getting knocked down in the open sight of the entire class.
It is in these times; the resource officers are most in demand.
School Resource officers create value by building relationships with students and showing them that they are more than just representative of the legal system. Some of these individuals act as mentors or counselors to students needing purpose and direction in life.
Any giving school day will bring in students who want to talk to someone but cannot reach out for the regular school counselor who might be overwhelmed already.
A resource officer will be a welcome door and will be able to offer comfort and care.
If districts and administrators desire to educate students about the justice system, including laws, incarceration, drugs, and other crimes, then school resource officers will be glad to be invited as a guest in one the school classrooms.
The knowledge of the law and the consequences of breaking it will go a long way in deterring criminal behavior in some students.
In Milwaukee Wisconsin, I taught for nearly 10 years. In a classroom of 7th and 8th graders I can say that most of the young men needed to learn about the consequences of engaging in illegal behavior outside the classroom.
A resource officers would have been a godsend to help some of those young men avoid engaging in deviant behavior and receiving criminal records.
Traits of a School Resource Officer
What traits should a powerful school resource officer possess? I believe the best should possess at least seven critical ones.
Can he or she guide and inspire students and make effective decisions when engaging with the school environment?
Does he or she inspire and encourage others to reach their full potential and achieve success in their academics?
Does the resource officer display integrity. Does he or she express strong moral principles, honesty, and ethical behavior within and without school grounds?
Is he or she curious, imaginative, and open to new experiences dealing with diverse students’ populations and ideas?
Does he or she open minded? Is there an acceptance of diverse perspectives? Does he show respect for differences and styles?
Can she wait calmly and endure challenging situations with students who refuse to cooperate with commands?
Can the resource officer communicate in a considerate and diplomatic manner in tense situations dealing with students?
The Need for School Resource Officers
The rise in school violence is a call for resource officers, loud and clear. These individuals can act as deterrents to those aspects of the student population who thrive on disrespect and rebellion toward authority figures.
Undoubtedly, these types of students do exist in districts across America.
Imagine if resource officers were presence in many of the schools that fell victim to mass killings over the last few years. Many heartaches, grief, and pain could have been prevented due to the loss of innocent children and teaching staff.
My Minnesota Resource Officer Experience
As a substitute teacher in Minnesota, I have always felt a sense of connectivity when encountering a resource officer. Before the incidents of police brutality occurred in the city of Minneapolis, these officers represented safety and security in many schools.
However, in the 23-34 school year, Minnesota is struggling with the decision to bring school resource offices back into the schools. Some believe that situations may arise in which the officers will use excessive force on students.
However, no such incidents have occurred in Minnesota. An Several schools have already decided to welcome the resources officers back into the school environment.
Hopefully, other schools in Minnesota, as well as schools across the country, will see the critical need to return a sense of law and order back into their schools.