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‘Broken windows’ policy proposed for schools as violence surges: ‘We lost sight of the basics’

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A “broken windows” policy is needed in schools in order to combat a surge in violence plaguing schools across the U.S., one expert argued, after three students were stabbed in three separate New York City schools in three days.

“I think we have lost sight of the basics,” Naomi Schaefer Riley of the American Enterprise Institute told “Fox & Friends.”

Earlier this month, New York police responded to a 15-year-old boy being sliced in the face by a classmate during a fight at a Bronx charter school. The incident was the third act of student violence in the Big Apple over three days, the New York Post reported.


The surge in school violence post-COVID prompted Schaefer to call for “broken windows policing” in schools, which connects to the period in the 1990s when the New York City Police Department was ordered to address any semblance of criminal activity, whether that be a smashed window, public drinking, disorderly behavior or panhandling, to help improve the quality of life for residents.

Proponents of the strategy believe it helps identify criminals before they commit a more serious offense, while opponents have argued it can lead to unnecessary police interactions. 

The senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute explained further that many school officials stopped enforcing rules needed to keep students’ behavior in check.

“A lot of schools really, especially during COVID, they were not only locked down, but even after they came back, we started not worrying about attendance. We started not worrying about small behavioral infractions. We started not worrying about grades. We started not worrying about dress codes,” Schaefer said.


“All of these things, I think, really combine to create an atmosphere where larger kind of behaviors are really being tolerated more and more. And students are getting the message that nobody really cares about what the atmosphere in the school is.”

In Florida, five teenagers are facing charges after video showed the graphic beating of a student whose head was slammed into pavement, knocking them unconscious. The mob incident occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the site of one of the nation’s worst school shootings in 2018.

Earlier this year, the video of a 17-year-old Florida student brutally assaulting a teacher’s aide made national headlines. The teacher suffered five broken ribs, a severe concussion, loss of hearing in one of her ears and other issues as a result of the beating. The student, Brendan Depa, now 18, was charged with first-degree felony aggravated battery on an elected official or education employee.

Schaefer said a “broken windows” strategy in schools could have a long-term impact on students’ behavior, especially if it begins in elementary school. 

“We need to start paying attention to attendance. We need to start paying attention to the dress code. We need to start paying attention to whether kids are disruptive in class. And once we start sort of saying, look, we’re not going to tolerate these small things … especially when you do this in the younger grades. … It will have a long-term impact on the way they think about school and the environment there,” she said.

Schaefer also stressed the importance of having school resource officers to intervene and help teachers. 

“The idea that in the name of some kind of restorative justice, we would remove these people, who are the only ones holding the line against this sort of violence, is crazy,” she told host Brian Kilmeade.

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