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Fri Jul 22 08:55:59 MDT 2011





 “[The] penetration of prison culture into daily life and particularly schools has been brilliantly traced by US writer Annette Fuentes in LOCKDOWN HIGH”
– Bidisha, GUARDIAN

“[A] well-argued book ... packed with the anecdotally eye-catching and hard, persuasive data Fuentes's detailed and daunting investigation ... is a wakeup call.”– PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes reports on the disturbing effects of the obsession with security in US schools following the Columbine shootings and other high-profile incidents of school violence.

Fuentes visited schools across America, and finds metal detectors, drug tests, police profiling of students with no records, arbitrary expulsions, teachers carrying guns and all-seeing electronic surveillance. She shows how the understandable desire to protect children from school violence in the wake of tragic events like Columbine morphed into something more sinister.

In the course of her research, Fuentes finds a 13-year-old girl strip-searched on suspicion of carrying ibuprofen, a 5-year-old arrested for carrying a butter knife, children suspended from nursery for having herbal cough drops, and pre-emptive profiling of students as “future criminals”. Fuentes also uncovers the story of a Philadelphia high school which gave all its students laptops as part of a ‘technology initiative’. When a student was disciplined for ‘improper behaviour’ at home, it emerged that the laptops had been fitted with webcams which transmitted what students (or anyone else who happened to be near the laptops) were doing, without the knowledge or authorisation of the students or their families.

Fuentes puts the hysteria over high-profile US school shootings into historical perspective. She cites similarly horrific violent incidents from the now idealised schools of the 1950s and 1960s, and shows that statistically children are no less safe at school in America today than in previous decades. However, Fuentes argues, a series of high-profile violent incidents have skewed public perceptions of school safety and set the agenda for schools to increasingly borrow the methods of zero-tolerance policing and the prison system.

Through rigorous research, Fuentes also shows that, despite popular opinion, children are statistically safer at school than anywhere else, including their homes. School violence has been falling over the past decade, yet American schools have never been more preoccupied with security.

Fuentes argues that hysteria has distorted the media coverage of school violence . The climate of fear arising from this has created ripe conditions for the imposition of unprecedented restrictions on young peoples’ rights, dignity and educational freedoms.

In what many call the school-to-prison pipeline, the policing and practices of the juvenile justice system increasingly infiltrate the schoolhouse. These ‘zero tolerance’ measures push the most vulnerable and academically needy students out of the classroom and into harm’s way, and create an Orwellian climate where children are flagged as likely criminals on the flimsiest of pretexts, despite never having committed a crime.

LOCKDOWN HIGH serves as a stark warning of the dangers of criminalising young people, and of prioritising security and discipline over the rights of pupils.


“Examples of zero-tolerance policies taken to absurd levels are attention-grabbing, but the real story, spelled out here with clarity and a touch of anger, is a disturbing one that should concern members of school boards, principals, teachers and parents.” – KIRKUS

“Lockdown High is a wake up call for Americans who care about how schools treat children and young people ... This book is a must read for school boards, school administrators and parents.” – Rodney Skager, Professor emeritus of education psychology, UCLA

“Fuentes’ style is smart and accessible, her material both revelatory and relevant—it’s not only parents who will stay up late reading Lockdown High, but anyone interested in where we are headed.” – Nell Bernstein, author of ALL ALONE IN THE WORLD: CHILDREN OF THE INCARCERATED

See also this GUARDIAN article:


ANNETTE FUENTES is an investigative journalist and works at The Bay Citizen, an internet news service in San Francisco, and is a member of the board of contributors to USA Today's opinion pages. She has written for the New York Times, Nation, Village Voice, Progressive, and In These Times. She lives in the East Bay.


ISBN: 978 1 84467 681 1 / $26.95 / £20.00 / $33.50CAN / Hardback / 240 pages


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