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Underdiagnosed & Over-Punished

The school-to-prison targets vulnerable populations and exacerbates preexisting racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. Harsh disciplinary practices at school coupled with inequitable and discriminatory treatment of minority students, and an underdiagnosis and lack of treatment of disabilities such as ADHD, place children of color and children with disabilities at an academic disadvantage and increase their chances of contact with the criminal justice system. The current priority of punishment rather than education in the United States is problematic. By addressing and bringing awareness to the school-to-prison pipeline, conversations can be opened about the importance of equity and inclusion in the classroom, and the harm that is created by the current use of harsh school practices. In addition to this, educating individuals about the ways in which the school-to-prison pipeline can be brought to a halt and why change needs to happen is important.

With this purpose, a ten-week project was created. It consisted of hours spent on researching and using thematic coding and analysis to breakdown the school-to-prison pipeline and how it affects vulnerable students. The result was two products; an infographic poster which exposes research on the school-to-prison pipeline, and an informational sheet which provides some steps that can be taken to put an end to the school-to-prison pipeline. Students with disabilities account for a quarter of all children arrested in schools despite making up only twelve percent of school populations in the U.S. In particular ADHD is present in forty-six percent of juvenile offenders. At risk children are slipping between the cracks without adequate support. Therefore, creating a shift from punishment into reformation and education can protect and provide support to our most vulnerable children. It starts with improving student-to-teacher relationships and student-to-school bond building.