New York, NY - Earlier today, the National Rifle Association released a set of alarming proposals to increase the number of armed personnel in schools as a response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School late last year. The effort, called the National School Shield Program, calls for funding and legislation to support NRA-sponsored model training programs for School Resource Officers and armed school personnel in our nation’s public schools.
Many who remember the aftermath of the shootings at Columbine High School will recall a similar rush to adopt high-security measures that do not succeed in making our schools any safer. In fact, metal detectors, increased police presence and zero-tolerance discipline practices have succeeded only in pushing students out of school and making schools feel more like a prison than a safe place to learn.
Our youth members from Youth Justice Coalition in Los Angeles say it best: “You Can’t Build Peace with a Piece”. They, along with other Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) members across the country who experience gun violence in their communities, have learned the painful lesson: we cannot look to guns to solve our problems.
In an effort to pre-empt and respond to the NRA’s proposal, during the week of April 1-5, youth of color across the country are holding an “April Fools Week of Action.” Student, parent and educator-led organizations, including members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign and Alliance for Educational Justice, are holding concerts, rallies, teach-ins and lobby visits to urge federal and local policy-makers to support and fund counselors, social workers and community intervention workers instead of foolish policies that would further criminalize students and put more police in schools.
In February, the youth of color-led organizations released a “Statement by Youth of Color on School Safety and Gun Violence in America” and launched the “You Can’t Build Peace With A Piece” campaign, which includes a petition to President Obama and Members of Congress.
These young people, along with parents, educators and researchers are all sending the same message: Building strong school communities where every student has a relationship with trusted adults is the best way to keep our students safe. In fact, according to a joint US Secret Service and Department of Education report, most school shootings were stopped by means other than law enforcement intervention such as school staff.
More and more schools are looking to proven programs like Restorative Justice and Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions where other punitive polices have failed, and these programs do make schools safer by providing ways of identifying and intervening where students show warning signs of violent behavior.
As Congress is putting forth gun safety legislation in the coming days and weeks, we hope that they look to students, parents and educators for ways to keep our young people safe – not to gun-industry lobbyists.
• Learn more about the You Can’t Build Peace with a Piece Week of Action at -
• Read the You Can’t Build Peace with a Piece Statement at -
• For a complete listing of April Fools Week of Action events please visit –
• Read the DSC, Advancement Project, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) and the Alliance for Educational Justice joint issue brief outlining the problems already experienced by stationing police in schools
The Dignity in Schools Campaign is a coalition of youth, parents, educators, civil rights organizations, and social justice advocates working to ensure the human right of every child to a quality education and to be treated with dignity. The DSC challenges the systemic problem of “push out” and promotes local and national alternatives to a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment and removal in our nation’s schools.