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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Criminalization of Black Girls in K-12 U.S Schools: A Public Health Issue

The data associated with this publication are within the manuscript.

This research examines the criminalization of Black girls in K-12 schools in the United States and presents possible solutions to the issue. A series of interviews conducted with Black girls and women who attended elementary, middle, and high school throughout the United States were used to develop the following research. The interviews were semi-structured with a set of questions surrounding the interviewees’ relationships with school professionals, their experience with in-school discipline, and their sense of belonging within the school setting. Interviewees o en expanded on the set questions with in-depth anecdotes of their personal experiences and what they witnessed in school. The interview responses were used to understand what experiences Black girls are having in school in relation to discipline; in addition, Black Critical Theory was used to further analyze and explain the recurring anti-Black treatment targeted towards Black girls. Interviews repeatedly revealed that Black girls are having ongoing encounters with violence, intolerance, lack of support within school, and exclusionary discipline. Additionally, this research found that Black girls are experiencing adultification as early as kindergarten and have developed personal and shared trauma as a result of their school experiences. Furthermore, this study unveiled a strong need for school professionals and involved organizations to acknowledge the unique experiences of differing cultural and identity groups while constructing classroom environments and discipline policies.

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