New book by Criminal Justice Science Professor reveals school suspension likely to harm the future of Black children

December 13 21:00 2021
“Suspended: Punishment, Violence, and the Failure of School Safety” by Dr. Charles Bell inspires a national dialogue on the heinous effects of the punitive and unfair practice of school suspension on Black kids.

Bloomington, Illinois – December 13, 2021 – Black students in American schools are 6X more likely to get suspended than White girls and 4X than White boys. Worse, school suspensions not only harm their academic achievement but can also negatively impact employment of the parents and might even abet risks of criminalization of Black students. There is an urgent need to raise awareness about the menacing effects of school suspension among suspended Black children lest the traditional practice of punishment would be doing them more harm than good. In that light, Dr. Charles Bell, Assistant Professor of Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State University, has written a book that sheds light on how school suspensions unfairly target inner-city Black children, leading to grave repercussions. 

Titled “Suspended: Punishment, Violence, and the Failure of School Safety”, the book was officially released on November 2, 2021. The book was published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Bell shared that his new book explores the views of Black students, parents, and teachers on out-of-school suspension and its impact on students’ grades, parents’ employment, relationships with teachers, and school violence.  It also reveals their views on metal detectors, guards, and law enforcement officers.

Dr. Bell has been working extensively on the detrimental effects of school suspension of Black kids for years. For the new book, he has interviewed 110 Black students who received at least one out-of-school suspension from inner-city and suburban Detroit high schools and their parents. He also interviewed 50 high school teachers in the Detroit area. The findings of the interview have been nothing less than shocking. 

“My interviews of Black children and their parents for the book (‘Suspended’) brought to light some extremely disturbing truths. When Black students are deterred from going to school (due to suspension), they don’t learn anything and that increases their risk of being arrested and incarcerated. It might eventually crush their dreams or whatever opportunities they might have for the future. The whole effect of the traditional system of school suspension could be completely destructive”, stated Dr. Bell. 

“The problem even negatively impacts the employment of the parents of the suspended kids. During the interview, I came across some parents who complained that they had to take hours off to be with their kids as they were suspended from school and that even led to job loss for some of them.”

Speaking on, Dr. Bell also revealed that some of the students he had interviewed didn’t receive the suspension because they were bad- but because it was the teachers who misinterpreted their behaviors. A 9-year-old Louisiana student was suspended for 6 days because his teacher found a BB gun in his room during an online class. The reality is, the student simply had placed it on the shelf because one of his siblings had tripped over the gun the other day. Not just that, a 12-year-old student had to encounter law enforcement officials because his teacher found him playing with a simple toy gun which the teacher mistook as a real gun. 

Some of the suspensions students received even violated state and federal laws. 

Added to the disturbing effects of school suspension in Black children, the book also sheds light on the inadequate safety measures in schools that leave children vulnerable to victimization and bullying when they return to school after the suspension period.

“Many of the students I interviewed expressed that they did not feel safe in school. Most of the schools lack adequate safety measures and fail to protect the kids.” 

“There is an urgent need for an inclusive national dialogue on school punishment and safety reform. We can’t let the outdated unjust traditional system of school punishment doom the future of our kids.”

The book has also received rave reviews from various quarters: 

“Bell’s analysis of students’ experiences with anti-Blackness and school punishment is both powerful and gut-wrenching. Educators and student advocates who are serious about reducing violence in schools—especially the violence schools themselves perpetrate—need to read this unique and important book.”— Aaron Kupchik, University of Delaware, author of The Real School Safety Problem: The Long-Term Consequences of Harsh School Punishment 

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Media Contact
Contact Person: Charles Bell, Ph.D. (AUTHOR)
Email: Send Email
City: Bloomington
State: Illinois
Country: United States