The primary role of police in schools is drawing national attention because of increased concern that public schools have provided a pathway for known discriminatory and violent practices by some police officers to be transferred from communities to school settings; and against black children and young adolescents. Highly publicized videos involving School Resource Officers (SROs) repeatedly slamming and brutally attacking an 11 year old black boy in North Carolina and girl in Farmington New Mexico sparked national concern regarding how SROs practices contribute to the traumatic experiences that black students endure. Yet, less is known regarding black students’ perceptions of their interactions with SROs and how these experiences impact their well-being. To address this gap in literature this article reviewed and synthesized results from studies that have explored black students’ perceptions of their interactions with SROs in middle and high school settings.
A systematic review of the literature was conducted to identify studies that (1) included black elementary and/or high school students, (2) included SROs, (3) examined black students perceptions of SROs, (4) published between January 2009 and December 2019, and (5) conducted in the U.S.
Study findings showed that interactions with SROs are perceived as discriminatory, criminalizing, traumatic, and negatively impacting student-teacher relations among black students.
Conclusions and Implications
Research from the studies included in this review has been informative in documenting black youth perceptions of their interactions with SROs and the impact that these experiences have on their well-being. Future research should employ more rigorous sampling techniques and research designs that enable researchers to examine the long-term effects of SROs practices on the mental, behavioral, and emotional outcomes of black students, and factors that moderate or mediate this relationship.