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Why and When Do School Resource Officers Engage in School Discipline? The Role of Context in Shaping Disciplinary Involvement

NCJ Number
American Journal of Education Volume: 126 Issue: 1 Dated: 2019 Pages: 33-63
Date Published
31 pages

Since the use of law enforcement officers in schools raises concerns about impacts on school discipline, this study drew on a large-scale qualitative study of approximately 50 schools across two school districts to examine school resource officers' (SROs') involvement in school discipline and how it is shaped by their context.


The study used interview, focus-group, and observation data from nearly 200 participants to document variability in the way SROs conceptualize and are involved in discipline, as well as how such involvement is shaped by context. Although 79 percent of SROs initially reported not being involved in discipline, the study found that the majority of the SROs involved themselves in nuanced ways that were shaped by relationships with school staff, official policies, and the characteristics of students served. These findings indicate the need for clarity regarding SROs' involvement in discipline and ways that schools can shape contexts to ensure that SROs are not increasing the use of exclusionary practices. 4 tables, 1 figure, and 37 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019