PROVIDENCE — Thirty teenagers, members of the Providence Student Union, rallied at City Hall Wednesday to demand the removal of police officers from their high schools.
The student rights organization also called for an increase in guidance counselors and a shift toward restorative justice, which uses dialogue and understanding to resolve disciplinary issues. Instead of relying on school resource officers, students asked for safety teams whose members are trained in deescalation techniques and conflict resolution.
“Today, I am fighting for every student ever pinned down, arrested or harassed by school resource officers,” said student Jayson Rodriguez. “We don’t need SROs. We need more counselors. We need more nurses. We need more mental health providers. We need more social workers.”
“Imagine being in Jayson’s shoes,” said Paul Taverez, an adult organizer for the Providence Student Union. “Imagine being very afraid but not being able to name what that fear is. To those who can’t imagine a world without police in the schools, the students say, ‘There is such a future.’”