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Black Girls in Florida Schools Feel Unsafe Due to Policing and Criminalization

Black Girls facing safety issues (Credits: Black Enterprise)

A recent study by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reveals that Black girls in Florida’s schools feel unsafe and targeted due to policing policies and cultures of criminalization.

The report, based on surveys and focus groups with Black girls and young women aged 14-24 in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), highlights the harsh treatment they face from school police and security, including sexual harassment, humiliation, and discipline settings that mimic prison-like conditions.

Black Girls (Credits: Ottumwa Courier)

The study attributes this to “adultification,” where Black girls are perceived as older, less innocent, and more promiscuous than their white peers, leading to harsher treatment and higher rates of suspension and expulsion. Black girls also face racism and sexual harassment from security guards, who are more aggressive towards them than lighter-skinned students.

The report criticizes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act (MSD Act), which increased law enforcement in schools and surveillance, leading to increased youth arrests, disproportionately affecting minority students.

Seal of the State of Florida (Credits: The Hill)

Instead, the report recommends “holistic school safety” strategies that address psychological, emotional, and physical safety needs, invest in student support services, and avoid policing and harsh punishment.

Black girls in Florida’s schools deserve to feel safe and supported, not criminalized and targeted. By centering their experiences and implementing holistic safety strategies, schools can create a more inclusive and equitable environment for all students.

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