by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., has introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that could improve the lives of thousands of children in the District of Columbia by offering them alternatives to unsafe school environments.
Under his proposal, Child Safety Accounts would be available to all D.C. students facing a “safety issue” at school after their parents file a request with school administrators. These issues include bullying, sexual misconduct, harassment, abuse, fighting or physical assaults on the student, and concerns over gang activity or drug usage at school. Families could also receive a CSA if there is unease over food allergy or other health-related safety issues.
CSAs would allow parents to pay tuition and fees at qualified private schools, as well as for tutoring services, textbooks, transportation costs, and therapy costs to cope with a safety incident.
Programs that give children a lifeline out of a school where they feel unsafe are disturbingly necessary. Data recently published from the National Center for Education Statistics show there were 827,000 total incidents of theft and non-fatal violent victimization on school property in 2016–17, or 33 incidents for every 1,000 students. “Violent victimization” includes simple assault, aggravated assault, robbery, sexual assault, and rape. A little more than one in five students aged 12 to 18 reported being bullied at school in 2017, and 69% of those students reported being bullied multiple times. Another 15% reported being electronically bullied in 2017.