The Power of the Youth Don’t Stop

Last Thursday, I attended a rally and press conference at City Hall in NYC in support of the Student Safety Act. About 100 fired up students from Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Make the Road New York, and the Urban Youth Collaborative gathered to speak out about the harassment and abuse that youth of color and immigrant youth face at the hands of school safety agents (who are employed by the NYPD) in NYC public schools.

The message was clear: it is unacceptable for those who are supposed to be keeping students safe in schools to actually be creating repressive and abusive school climates.

Through surveying 1,100 NYC students last school year, we found that 17% of all students who experience bias harassment in schools have been harassed by an adult — a teacher, staff, or school safety agent. The Sikh Coalition and our allies have been urging the Department of Education to expand its Chancellor’s Regulations to protect students from staff-to-student harassment, but to date the regulations remain unchanged.

The Student Safety Act, which was introduced by the City Council in 2008, would create accountability and transparency over police behavior in our schools if passed. The City Council will be holding a hearing on November 10th to vote on the bill. Contact your City Council member to urge him or her to support the Student Safety Act, and attend the press conference followed by the City Council hearing on November 10th at 12 noon at City Hall.

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