School resource officers, 'zero tolerance' and the enforcement of compliance in the American education system

Bleakley, Paul ORCID: and Bleakley, Cindy (2018) School resource officers, 'zero tolerance' and the enforcement of compliance in the American education system. Interchange, 49 (2) . pp. 247-261. ISSN 0826-4805 [Article] (doi:10.1007/s10780-018-9326-5)

[img] PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Download (560kB)


Schools are an important part of any community, and are increasingly considered responsible for the social education of young people as much as their academic instruction. In doing so, many schools have adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ response to student conduct that involves harsh penalties for minor infractions. At the heart of this zero tolerance approach is the use of School Resource Officers (SROs) as a means of enforcing student discipline. Involvement of these sworn police officers in the day-today behaviour management processes of a school has serious implications for students that are targeted by these measures. Students at schools with a SRO presence are five times more likely to be arrested for disorderly conduct, with over 10,000 prosecutions of young people under the so-called ‘disturbing schools’ laws every academic year. SROs and their use as a behavioural deterrent can be seen to influence a juvenile’s likelihood of recidivism and heavily impacts upon their involvement in the school-to-prison pipeline. Direct causal connections exist between the criminalisation of misbehaviour in school and adult incarceration; in this sense, the presence of SROs in American schools must be re-evaluated in order to determine whether they constitute an acceptable application of social control.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Education
A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Item ID: 27877
Notes on copyright: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Interchange. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Paul Bleakley
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2019 13:36
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2021 20:02

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.