Mental health deserves as much support as school law enforcement

Evie Smith, Reporter

School law enforcement has always been a controversial topic. Some people believe officers in schools make it feel like a prison, while others say they are a safety necessity. Petitions for the removal of law enforcement in elementary and middle schools and a reduced number of school resource officers (SROs) in high schools have caught the attention of many. Both, however, seem indispensable in our society today.

 

Those who oppose officers in schools think the money would be better spent on more counselors and mental health specialists. Fayette County spent $7.0 million on school law enforcement in 2021 and $4.6 million on mental health and student support services combined. Both costs have raised significantly since 2019, but law enforcement has always been a greater cost than mental health and student support services. Keeping everyone safe and adding the technology necessary to do so is not cheap. There is a reason the budget is higher for law enforcement. Schools have a limited amount of money and they can’t spend their entire budget on both or either of those services. 

 

Mental health and student support services seem vital when so many students suffer from mental health issues or need that extra support. It seems essential to have specialists because so many students need someone there for them. If there are not enough resources for the students then no one can receive the help they need. Teachers can not always be that extra support system, therefore specialists are necessary to the well-being of students. Having more mental health specialists and services is ideal, but is not always an achievable goal. It can be difficult to find people who want to work in a school or people who are qualified to do so. 

 

Law enforcement in schools seems equally as important. In a society where school shootings are not scarce, SROs seem imperative. Student fights can become more than messing around and gain violence. When this happens, it is crucial to have officers there to break up fights and keep everyone safe since only they can physically break up the fights. With everything our world includes, feeling safe is necessary. Having law enforcement is a way to keep everyone in the building safe.

 

The discussion between the two matters has been heavily debated. Both are important services to have. Fayette County has routinely put more money into law enforcement, but that does not mean they do not care about students’ mental health. The schools only have so much money to spend. Law enforcement is in schools for a reason, and if situations come to play where student’s lives are at risk, those officers will be at the ready. Mental health and student specialists are equally as important though. Keeping students safe is the number one priority, and both of these jobs make that possible.