Part of our goal as human beings is to facilitate the success and development of others, more specifically our children. It’s been said time and time again that children are our future, therefore we need to foster their creativity and development towards the path of success.
Backed by the Children’s Defense Fun, the Massachusetts coalition’s campaign, Cradle to Prison Pipeline, aims to protect children from being deterred from the path of success. It’s frightening to think that children spend time in youth detention centers. Rather than criticize the child and their situation, we should be scrutinizing the system which failed and allowed for them to fall into the vicious cycle of our prison system. 1 in 3 Black and 1 in 6 Latino boys born in 2001 are at risk of imprisonment during their lifetime. The rate of incarceration is endangering children at younger ages. How have we failed so badly at protecting these children from falling into the prison system?
This scary reality has led for the coalition to focus on the role of zero tolerance school discipline policies and how these policies actually funnel children into the prison system in Massachusetts. The Cradle to Prison Pipeline campaign is a statewide campaign interested in dismantling the pipeline of students to prisons and creating an expressway towards college and productive work. The coalition of parents, youth and community leader’s goal is to develop solutions that create positive learning environments for all children. This call comes just in time.
From 2009 to 2010, in Massachusetts alone, there were 60,000 expulsions or suspensions. National research suggests that a child is three times more likely to drop out of school by 10th grade than a student who has never been suspended; and dropping out triples the likelihood this child will end up incarcerated later in life.
Of those 60,000, about 30,00 were “unassigned offenses” which are defined as nonviolent, noncriminal offensives which can include behavioral issues such as swear, talking back to a teacher and truancy. Two-Thirds of 30,00 recieved school suspension. These “unassigned offenses” are not required to be reported which results in exclusions of up to 10 days for regular students, because of this the actual number of disciplinary exclusions are likely to be two to three times the number reported.
But you are not voiceless, you can help out with individual, familial, communal, and organizational involvement. Ways of getting involved in this campaign are detailed on their Take Action page.
In addition to the detailed information provided by the Children’s Defense Fund, Saturday, April 28th, from 12:00pm to 2:30pm at the University of Massachusetts Boston Healey Library, 11th Floor, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston MA, Boston Public Schools parent Azure Parker is leading an effort to hold a community forum for youths and parents directly affected by the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.
-Margo, Future Boston Intern.