THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL IN DELINQUENCY PREVENTION
Numerous organizations and groups have called for reforming the educational system to make it more responsive to the needs of students. Educational leaders now recognise that children undergo enormous pressures while in school that can lead to emotional and social problems. At one extreme are the pressures to succeed academically; at the other are the crime and substance abuse students face on school grounds. It is difficult to talk about achieving academic excellence in a deteriorated school dominated by gang members.
One way of improving schools and reducing delinquency is through sponsored educational reform. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB) (Public Law 107-110) authorizes federal programs aimed improving America's primary and secondary schools by increasing the accountability for states, school districts, and schools and also providing parents more flexibility in choosing which schools their children will attend. The NCLB increases focus on reading and relies on outcome-based education or the belief that high expectations and setting of goals will result in success for all students. The NCLB has proven quite controversial.
SCHOOL - BASED PREVENTION PROGRAMS
Education officials have instituted numerous programs to make schools more effective instruments of delinquency prevention. Some of the most prevalent strategies are as follows:
Cognitive- Increase students' awareness about the dangers of drug abuse and delinquency.
Affective-Improve students' psychological assets and self-image to give them are resources to resist antisocial behavior.
Behavioral-Train students in techniques to resist peer pressure.
Environmental-Establish school management and disciplinary programs that deter crime, such as locker searches.
Therapeutic- Treat youths who have already manifested problems.
More specific suggestions include creating special classes or schools with individualized programs that foster success for nonadjusting students. Efforts can be made to help students deal contructively with academic failure when it does occur.
More personalized student-teacher relationships have been recommended. This effort to provide young people with a caring, accepting adult role model will, it is hoped , strengthen the controls against delinquency. Counselors acting as liaisons between the family and the school might also be effective in preventing delinquency. These counselors try to ensure cooperation betweenm the parents and the school and to secure needed services for troubled students. Some programs that help families and schools develop conflict-avoidance skills have proven effective in reducing violence levels and disciplinary measures, such as suspensions and expulsions.
Experiments have been proposed to integrate job training and experience with classroom instruction, allowing students to see education as a relevant prelude to their careers. Job training programs emphasize public service, encouraging students to gain a sense of attachment to their communities.
Because three out of four mothers with school-age children are employed ,and two-thirds of them work full time, three is a growing need for af-school programs. Todays , after-school options include child-care centers,tutoring programs at school,dance groups, basketball leagues, and drop-in clubs. State and federal budgets for education, public safety, crime prevention, and child care provide some funding for after-school programs. Research shows that younger children (ages 5-9) and those in low-income neighborhoods gain the most from after-schools programs, showing improved work habits, behavior with peers and adults, and performance in school. Young teens who attend after-school activities achieve higher grades in school and engage in less risky behavior. These findings must be interpreted with caution. Because after-school programs are voluntary, participants may be the more motivated youngsters in a given population and the least likely to engange in antisocial behavior.
Schools may not be able to reduce delinquency single-handedly, but a number of alternative to their present operations could aid a community-wide effort to lesson juvenile crime. And reviews of some of the more successful programs show that the savings in terms of reduced delinquency, school costs, and so on far outweight the amount of money spent on prevention.
LEGAL RIGHTS IN THE SCHOOLL
The actions of education officials often run into opposition from the courts,which are concerned with maintaining the legal rights of minors. The U.S. Supreme Court has sought to balance the civil liberties of students with the school's mandate to provide a safe environment. Three of the main issues involved are privacy issues, free speech in school , and school discipline.
The right to personal privacy
One major issue is the right of school officials to search students and their possessions on school grounds. Drug abuse,theft,assault and battery, and racial conflicts in schools have increased the need to take action against troublemakers. School administrators have questioned students about their illegal activities, conducted searches of students' persons and possessions, and reported suspicious behavior to the the police.
In 1984, in new jersey v.T.L.O., the Supreme Court helped clarify a vexing problem: whether the fourth amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to school officials as well as to police officers. In this case, the court found that students are in fact constitutionally protected from illegal searches, but that school officials are not bound by the same restrictions as law enforcement agents. police need "probable cause" before they can conducts a search, but educators can legally search students when there are reasonable grounds to believe the students have violated the law or broken school rules. In creating this distinction , the court recognized the needs of school officials to preserve an environment conducive to education and to secure the safety of students.
Drug testing the supreme court has allowed school authorities to conduct random drug tests on the grounds that they are less intrusive than a search of a student's body. in the 1995 case vernonia school district 47J v. Acton, the court allowed the testing of student athletes who were going off campus to engage in events. Underlying this decision is the recognition that drug use is a serious threat to public safety that interferes with the right of children to receive a decent and safe education. While drug tests are intrusive, maintaining school safety was viewed as outweighing the minor inconvenience and loss of personal privacy. in a subsequent case, board of education of independent school district no.92 of pottawatomie country et al .v. earls et al., the court extended the right to test for drugs without probable cause to all students as long as the drug-testing policies were "reasonable".in this instance, the need for maintaining swift and informal disciplinary procedures to maintain order in a public school outweighs the rightto personal privacy. because the school's responsibility for children cannot be disregarded , it would not be unreasonable to search student for drug usage even if no single student was suspected of abusing drugs.
The court also ruled that,within this context, Students have a limited expectations of privacy. In their complaint, the studenyts argued that children participating in nonathletic extracurricular activities have a stronger expectation of privacy than athletes who regularly undergo physicals as part of their participation in sports. However,the court disagreed, maintaining that students who participate in competitive extracurricular activities voluntarily subject themselves to many of the same instrusions on their privacy as do athletes.
About 20 states have statutes permitting teachers to use corporal punishment in public school systems. Under the concept of in loco parentis, discipline is one of the parental duties given to the school system. In the 1977case ingraham v. wright, the court held that neither the eighth nor the fourteenth amendment was violated by a teacher's use of corporal punishment to discipline students. The court established the standed that only reasonable discipline is allowed in school systems. Despite the ingraham decision, the use of corporal punishment remains controversial. according to a recent study conducted by the american civil liberties union and human rights watch, almost a quarter of a million U.S. public school children are now being subjected to corporal punishment each school year, and a disproportionate number of them are students with mental or physical disabilities. The research found that students with disabilities made up about 19 percent of students who suffered corporal punishment at school, althought they constituted just 14 percent of the total nationwide student population. More than 40,000 students with disabilities are subjected to corporal punishment in U.S. schools each year , and this tally probably undercounts the actual rate of physical discipline since not all instances are reported or recorded. The report found that some students were punished for conduct related to their disabilities: students with tourette syndrome were paddled for exhibiting involuntary tics, and students with autism were punished for repetitive behaviors such as rocking. Opponents charge that corporal punishment may harm kids with disabilities, leading to a worsening of their conditions. For instance, some parents reported that students with autism became violent toward thenselves or others following corporal punishment. with regard to suspension and expulsion, in 1976 , in the case of goss v. lopez, the supreme court ruled that any time a student is to be suspended for up to 10 days , he or she is entitled to a hearing. in summary, schools have the right to discipline students, but students are protected from unreasonable , excessive , and arbitrary discipline.