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In the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver explored the argument that police make schools safer. Republican lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz have suggested a stronger police presence is more practical than gun control legislation. Just days after the tragedy in Uvalde, Cruz spoke at an NRA convention in Houston and said, “What stops armed bad guys is armed good guys.” Oliver pointed out that data does not support that claim.
“An analysis of 179 shootings on school grounds, which is a brutal thing to say out loud on its own, found no evidence that the presence of school resource officers lessened the severity of school shootings,” Oliver said.
School resource officers also have the authority to arrest students for something as innocuous as throwing candy or having a maple leaf in their backpack. Those arrests blemish students’ records and impact their standings at schools, regardless of whether or not they are later dismissed. And parents of Black students also worry that more police means more discrimination.
“Cops in schools do tend to behave the same way they behave outside of schools,” Oliver explained. “Which explains why Black students account for nearly a third of all students arrested, despite the fact that that's twice their share of enrollment.”
With a growing mental health crisis in schools, Oliver doesn’t think it makes much sense to fill the hallways with more cops. He believes the resources should be used to help deal with students’ mental state.
“Fourteen million students go to a school with police but without a counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker,” Oliver explained. “That is 14 million kids who are in closer proximity to a pair of handcuffs than they are to a medical or mental health professional.”
Oliver closed his argument by reminding viewers that kids are kids, not adults. They need to have a safe space to learn and make mistakes without fear of police.
“Kids deserve to be annoying without being arrested,” said Oliver. “They deserve to be curious, to make mistakes, to go a little too far, to be a little too loud — to basically be a f***ing kid! And they definitely deserve better than the fundamental lie that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy who can arrest a 5-year-old.”
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