My mother fought hard to keep us on the straight and narrow, and I am thankful every day that she was successful. I made it through the crazy adolescent years, went to college (dropped out) and joined the Philadelphia Police Department in December 1986. For the next 29 years, I was fortunate to serve with some of the bravest men and women I know.
During the final four years of my career, I became immersed in the issues around the number of youth arrested in schools in Philadelphia and across the nation. I learned that every year, thousands of children would be arrested in schools. A disproportionate number of these youth are African American and Latino. Many are poor. I was amazed to find that in Philadelphia County, a child as young as 10 (the minimum age of arrests in Pennsylvania) would be taken into custody solely for carrying a pair of scissors into school. (Yes, a pair of scissors.) These scissors and other items are often detected because the majority of our kids go through a metal detector prior to entering their school buildings. The child is transported to our juvenile processing location, placed in a 6-foot-by-6-foot cell. The child is subjected to fingerprinting and photographing. Can you imagine the trauma inflicted on a child as they go through this process? Is this an offense the juvenile justice system needs to address?
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