In his award-winning documentary The War on Kids (2009) [watch the trailer here], director Cevin Soling examines the dangers posed to young people today by a public school system that looks upon them as "superpredators" to be controlled and treated like criminals. Two obvious results of this dangerous mindset are the rise in zero tolerance policies and the physical transformation of the schools into quasi-prisons. ...
As Soling's insightful film documents, from the moment they walk into school, students today find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed, and snooped on. Between metal detectors at the entrances, drug-sniffing dogs in the hallways and surveillance cameras in the classrooms and elsewhere, America's schools have come to resemble prison-like complexes. Much of this is an attempt to appease parental fears in the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. Yet as one student remarks in the film, "They [the surveillance cameras] don't really prevent anything. They just take pictures of it." Indeed, the documentary points out there is no empirical data to show that metal detectors, locker searches, or security cameras have any impact in reducing school violence.
Neither have they managed to reduce drug usage among young people. Yet, ironically, while our nation's schools have become the primary battleground for the so-called war on drugs, they have also become a testing ground for the pharmaceutical industry. "Why is it that the U.S. has six times as many kids on Ritalin as any other country?" asks Dr. Bertram Karon of Michigan State University. "Because this is the most profitable country to sell your drugs." In fact, some 4 million children in the United States are on drugs, accounting for 90% of all Ritalin prescriptions in the world.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
School-free drug zones
"For the more than 49 million students who are attending elementary and secondary public schools this fall," writes constitutional attorney John Whitehead, "their time in school will be marked by overreaching zero tolerance policies, heightened security and surveillance and a greater emphasis on conformity and behavior-controlling drugs -- all either aimed at or resulting in the destruction of privacy and freedom."