Since the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, we’ve heard plenty of federal and state-level talk about how to make schools safer. Leaders in at least 20 states have proposed new or expanded “teacher-carry” laws that would allow educators or other school staff to carry concealed firearms. The proposals are sketchy, the debates divisive. But some districts have already moved to increase their school security forces. More than 200 Utah teachers have voluntarily undergone firearms training to respond to shooters. Just weeks ago the small city of Jordan, Minn., moved the entirety of its eight-member police force into city schools. And last week Los Angeles announced it would spend $4.2 million on an extra 1,000 new unarmed security officers for public schools.
Lost in the din have been the voices of young people who’ve felt the impact of previous security initiatives like these. While most school-based mass shootings happen in middle-class or white neighborhoods, reactive zero-tolerance policies have increased the amount of contact that kids of color in already over-policed neighborhoods have with law enforcement.
So we headed out to high schools and community centers in black and brown neighborhoods of Los Angeles to ask kids directly: Would more police and guns make your school safer?