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Study: Black Girls Face Harsher School Discipline than White Peers

Girls of color, particularly black girls, face more frequent and more severe discipline in public schools according to researchers at Columbia Law School. Credit: Anissa Thompson/freeimages.com
Girls of color, particularly black girls, face more frequent and more severe discipline in public schools according to researchers at Columbia Law School. Credit: Anissa Thompson/freeimages.com
November 2, 2015

NEW YORK – Girls of color face harsher and more frequent punishment in schools than their white peers, according to a new study.

Using Department of Education data from Boston and New York, Columbia University law professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw and her associates found black girls were 10 times more likely to be disciplined in New York than white girls – and 11 times more likely in Boston.

She says this creates a pipeline, pushing girls of color out of school and onto a path that can lead to economic insecurity, involvement in the criminal justice system and other hardships.

"Girls who are suspended are more likely not to graduate from school,” she maintains. “Girls who don't graduate from school actually have greater economic consequences than even boys who don't graduate from high school.

“So, this was a secret or silent risk factor that was undermining the well being of girls."

The study found that girls of color face disproportionately high rates of suspension and expulsion.

Crenshaw says the experience of black girls in schools is part of a pattern of mistreatment and violence they face in society.

As an example, she cites the female student in South Carolina seen being thrown by a police officer in a cellphone video that recently went viral.

"There's a critical mass of incidents like this where we can see that black women also are facing serious risk of police violence,” she stresses. “And many times, this police violence is prompted by their desire to control."

Overall, the research found black girls are six times more likely to be suspended from school than white girls. It also indicated the disparity in discipline between black and white girls is larger than that between black and white boys.

Nia Hamm/Scott Herron, Public News Service - NY