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Safe Schools

Safe Schools

(p.162) Seven Safe Schools
Navigating Conflict
Calvin MorrillMichael Musheno
University of Chicago Press

This chapter draws on ethnographic trouble cases and other observations, in-depth interviews, and youth sketch maps from New West High School (NWHS) to examine the unanticipated consequences associated with the implementation of safe schools, a national-level social movement championing carceral-like school discipline in the 1990s and into first decade of the twenty-first century. The chapter documents how youth language and images of trouble at NWHS changed, increasing rates of police calls, and contestation and normalization of departures from official policy. The chapter analytic regards an unprecedented episode of collective youth violence – what came to be called the “October Fight” – as an “organizational accident” lens through which to unpack the initial collective trauma experienced when formal and informal control on campus dramatically change as result of the adoption of safe schools. The chapter also examines how safe schools was normalized on campus and the loose-coupling that occurred among students and school staff between official disciplinary policies and everyday practices.

Keywords:   collective trauma, distrust, loose coupling, normalization, organizational accident

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