$100 Million Dollars Later: Are School Resource Officers Making North Carolina Schools Safer?

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2023-04-20

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Abstract

Since 2016, North Carolina has spent over $100 million on School Resource Officer (SRO) salaries and training. Research consistently finds SROs have little to no effect on school safety and can contribute to over-disciplining students. A difference-in-differences study on the effect of a 170% increase in SRO funding for North Carolina elementary and middle schools in 2018 suggests SROs have no effect on criminal acts or short-term suspensions but may increase the number of school-related arrests. Estimates suggest SROs caused an increase of about 0.035 arrests (p<0.1) per 1,000 elementary and middle school students. This translates to an additional 35 school-related arrests resulting from SRO presence. Arrests of students with disabilities increased by 0.243 (p<0.1) per 1,000 students, arrests of male students increased by 0.058 (p<0.1) per 1,000 students, and arrests of economically disadvantaged students increased by 0.068 (p<0.1) per 1,000 students. Findings for these subgroups align with previous research suggesting these students are particularly vulnerable to excessive disciplining. Lawmakers should consider these results when deciding the best ways to increase student safety and well-being in elementary and middle schools. Additionally, the state should require school districts to collect SRO data at the school level to evaluate the effects of SROs across time and decide if this investment of taxpayer dollars produces the desired results.

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LeFebvre, Joanna (2023). $100 Million Dollars Later: Are School Resource Officers Making North Carolina Schools Safer?. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27356.


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