Homeroom Security

School Discipline in an Age of Fear

274 pages

August, 2010

ISBN: 9780814748206

$79

Cloth

Also available in

Author

Aaron Kupchik is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. He is the author of Judging Juveniles: Prosecuting Adolescents in Adult and Juvenile Courts (NYU Press), winner of the 2007 American Society of Ciminology Michael J. Hindelang Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to Research in Criminology.

All books by Aaron Kupchik

Police officers, armed security guards, surveillance cameras, and metal detectors are common features of the disturbing new landscape at many of today’s high schools. You will also find new and harsher disciplinary practices: zero-tolerance policies, random searches with drug-sniffing dogs, and mandatory suspensions, expulsions, and arrests, despite the fact that school crime and violence have been decreasing nationally for the past two decades. While most educators, students, and parents accept these harsh policing and punishment strategies based on the assumption that they keep children safe, Aaron Kupchik argues that we need to think more carefully about how we protect and punish students.

In Homeroom Security, Kupchik shows that these policies lead schools to prioritize the rules instead of students, so that students’ real problems—often the very reasons for their misbehavior—get ignored. Based on years of impressive field research, Kupchik demonstrates that the policies we have zealously adopted in schools across the country are the opposite of the strategies that are known to successfully reduce student misbehavior and violence. As a result, contemporary school discipline is often unhelpful, and can be hurtful to students in ways likely to make schools more violent places. Furthermore, those students who are most at-risk of problems in schools and dropping out are the ones who are most affected by these counterproductive policies. Our schools and our students can and should be safe, and Homeroom Security offers real strategies for making them so.

Reviews

  • “In his compelling, important book about American schools and discipline, Kupchik, a professor of sociology at the University of Delaware, punctures the myth that tighter security measures stemmed from Columbine or any other school shooting.”

    —Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

  • “Kupchik's writing is meticulous and even-handed, even praising the officers whose methods he strongly disagrees with.”

    Salon

  • “Few issues are more important to parents than school violence. . . . This is research of prime quality that is readable and rigorous on an issue of extraordinary public importance and interest.”

    —Jonathan Simon, author of Governing through Crime

  • "Kupchik provides a compelling and detailed overview of the current discipline environment in today's schools . . . Kupchik builds the case that the recent law-and-order approach to student behavior may have many negative consequences, such as developing a population that never questions authority while not accomplishing the goal of keeping students safer."

    —VOYA Library Magazine, VOYA Library Magazine

  • "In this reevaluation of efforts to address school safety, Kupchik finds that recent attempts to reduce school violence have resulted in actions that contribute to the problem rather than correct it."

    —R. Roth, Choice

  •  "Homeroom Security persuasively raises alarm over the arbitrary and pernicious rules to which students are subjected.  [Kupchik] warns that such practices run the risk of creating docile subjects rather than critical citizens, an essential ingredient for a strong democracy.”

    Social Forces