Are school searches OK?
L.A. Youth staff members express their opinions about school searches, and many are in favor because they think searches will mean a safer school.
"I feel school searches are necessary up to a point. When it disrupts valuable class time that is already disrupted, then school searches, which are meant to be positive, end up "breaking" students’ rights. I personally don’t feel any safer with or without school searches. Unfortunately, a small percentage of teens will go as far as to kill someone. And if their mind is set on harming someone they will do it no matter what barriers they have to cross."
—Hassan Nicholas, 18, Hamilton HS (graduate)
"I personally believe that school searches should be mandatory. We currently live in a society where children have access to weapons of destruction. For this reason searches would be a help if they caught someone with a weapon."
—Nogie Demirjian, 17, Granada Hills HS
"There should be metal detectors and everyone should have to go through them. They should be set up at the front doors and as everyone comes to school, they go through. That’d be no big deal unless you had metal with you; then you’d have to do like at the airport and put all your metal in a container and walk through again. Done, it’s that easy. That would prevent knives being brought to school, too."
—Sancha Baucom, 17, University HS
"School searches are both important and intrusive. Despite the fact that we see school shootings more nowadays, it’s important to take into consideration that teens have rights, and it’s almost degrading to search people who honestly would never harm anyone. Yet, there are people who have the mentality to harm someone. Likewise, there should be tactics to protect the innocent ones. I feel that metal detectors should be used at the beginning of school to protect us from guns. But metal detectors will still not protect us from a harmful mentality."
—Karina Levitas, 17, Monroe High School:
"I think it’s legitimate to search students as they enter the school. It is justified and it’s done for the students’ and staff’s security. I don’t see why students feel that they’re treated as criminals, after all you have metal detectors in airports and concerts and no one seems to go against them. However, I think searches that are done during the class should be stopped because they are disruptive and might in fact make students feel criminal.
—Eugenia Usmanova, 17, El Camino Real HS
"If I get searched every day, I’m not comfortable, so I don’t learn as well. It would be a lot easier in the long run to teach students to respect each other enough to not want to blow each others’ heads off."
—Alex Cohen, 15, Flintridge Preparatory School
"Disadvantages: Causes hype; disruptive. Racially biased.
Advantage: Increased safety.
Impartial searches are the ideal remedy. No one feels targeted and everyone accepts the fact that it’s for the well-being of everyone—without picking out certain students and humiliating them."
—Michael Zinshteyn, 17, Santa Monica HS
"As long as contraband is found, then searches are acceptable. When students and teachers complain about losing class time because of searches taking place, they need to reconsider their standpoint because these actions are keeping the school campus safe. Certainly not all of the drugs or weapons students carry will be found, but in eliminating any part of a possible problem, the school is being effective. It is upsetting we have to deal with the minority, but how else can we attempt to end crime and disorder amongst today’s youth?"
—Elizabeth Del Cid, 18, a North Hollywood HS
"I personally believe that it is an invasion of privacy to be searched at school, especially without explanation. We as teens are treated as if we don’t know anything. We are treated like cattle. Since we had a gun control problem 10 years ago, why are we taking action now? Why does a big event such as Columbine have to trigger such "security" by adults? If it is mandatory to get searched, the students should be notified verbally and there should be signs explaining the reason. All students and parents should sign a waiver agreeing to the searches. One of the reasons why we accept security at airports is because airports are boundless. In schools, the administrators know their students, hopefully. They should trust us."
—Lindsay Spann, 18, Concord High School
"I am for school searching for the protection of students. However, I believe school searching shouldn’t interrupt class time. School searching should be done before school. It should be done in a reasonable fashion such as by using metal detectors when it’s not going to be time consuming."
—Bianca Gallegos, 18, Marshall HS
"At my school, they do not conduct searches. We don’t even have school police! We only have one security guard. However, I still feel safe at my school. Since my school is extremely small, I know most of the people and I do not know any students who would bring a gun to school. I think one way my school prevents students from carrying weapons around campus is that we are not allowed to carry backpacks during school hours. Backpacks are only to be used to carry books to and from school."
—April Hudson, 17, St. Mary’s Academy