Thursday, April 19, 2012

Making kids feel safe keeps them in school

San Francisco Examiner: Letters to the Editor

Kudos to the San Francisco Unified School District for taking a new, restorative approach to school discipline (“Making misbehavior a teachable moment,” April 10). Providing safe learning environments is just as important as keeping our streets safe.

In fact, the two may go hand in hand. Students who are “pushed out” of the classroom all too often fall behind, drop out and end up on a path leading into the criminal justice system. According to a recent study, students who were suspended or expelled were five times more likely to drop out and 11 times more likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system than similar students with no record of discipline.

Preventing crime in San Francisco begins with keeping children in the classroom and encouraging them to graduate. Studies have consistently shown that kids who stay in school live 10 years longer and make double the salary of their counterparts. On the negative side, nongraduates are more likely to engage in criminal behavior, serve time in prison and earn a lower wage throughout their lives.

Fortunately, proactive policies, such as the “restorative practices” implemented by the SFUSD, emphasize the importance of building positive relationships while holding kids accountable for their actions. These innovative approaches certainly will go a long way toward keeping these young adults on the right track in life.

Hopefully more school districts in California will follow the lead of the SFUSD.

Gregory P. Suhr
Chief of the San Francisco
Police Department

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