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SPLC statement on Greenville, Miss. high school student assaulted by staffer

The following statement regarding a September 17 incident in which an African-American female student was dragged by her hair and struck on the head by a school staffer at Greenville High School is by Jody Owens, managing attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi office: 

“We are deeply disturbed by videos that have surfaced of a Greenville High School staff member assaulting a young African-American student. Unfortunately, we have seen this type of violence against students of color and students with disabilities too many times before.

“Violent acts such as those appearing in the videos not only hurt and traumatize individual children, but they also contribute to a negative school climate, normalize violence and promote fear and anxiety among students and staff. In this case, the videos show that while other students and staff were present, no one intervened to stop the abuse. This is indicative of a school environment in which violence is normalized.

“We urge the District to utilize resources provided by the United States Department of Education and other evidence-based strategies in order to promote the development of positive school climates. Additionally, the District should engage staff, students, parents and community members in dialogue around improving the climate of the District’s schools.

“We appreciate the school district’s response to the videos, and we support parents and students in holding District officials accountable.”