Criminalizing Kids

Published — January 17, 2018 Updated — February 1, 2018 at 9:52 am ET

Virginia assembly bills seek to curb the state’s school-to-prison pipeline

Virginia schools referred students to law enforcement at nearly three times the national rate.


Several bills introduced to the Virginia general assembly seek to correct overly harsh punishment and police intervention in student discipline.

A 2015 analysis of Department of Education data by the Center showed that Virginia schools in a single year referred students to law enforcement personnel at a rate nearly three times the national rate.

Virginia’s referral rate was about 16 for every 1,000 students, compared to a national rate of six referrals for every 1,000 students. In Virginia, some of the individual schools with highest rates of referral — in one case 228 per 1,000 — were middle schools, whose students are usually from 11 to 14 years old.

Read the stories:

Virginia tops nation in sending students to cops, courts: Where does your state rank?

Virginia governor asks how to reverse schools’ staggering rate of referrals to cops and courts

The full series: Criminalizing Kids

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