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Hardening schools is not the best solution to promote safety

Police cars were parked outside at the end of the day as students left the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester in October 2022.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Notwithstanding the headline of Marcela García’s Aug. 22 Opinion column, “Boston school safety is a big problem. Few are discussing it,” the fact is, many stakeholders have voiced concerns around school safety in Boston, in community discussions and City Council meetings.

García makes reference to a recent parent survey conducted by MassINC that showed support for metal detectors and returning police officers to schools, but the point is misleading since she did not also note that the survey presented metal detectors and school police as the only measures to address school safety, despite both having been shown to be ineffective solutions.


MassINC’s survey ignored the broad range of evidence-based school safety solutions that make students’ needs central and address root causes of misbehavior. For example, research shows that the implementation of restorative justice practices reduces student misconduct and disciplinary sanctions while improving school climate and academic performance.

García also fails to acknowledge research that shows that police in schools do not make them safer. In a meta-analysis of 12 studies, none of the studies showed that police made schools safer; rather, their presence was found to lead to students being arrested for behaviors traditionally handled as school disciplinary matters. The column painted a narrow, one-sided view of school safety that excludes the most effective solutions.

Jakira Rogers

Program director, Racial Equity and Access Program

Massachusetts Advocates for Children

Leon Smith

Executive director, Citizens for Juvenile Justice

Andrew King

Postdoctoral associate

Boston University Center for Antiracist Research


King coordinates the Massachusetts racial policy tracker.