Virginia Tech researcher studying how school security measures affect students
The Institute for Society, Culture and Environment at Virginia Tech has named Anthony Peguero, an associate professor of sociology, as its spring 2016 senior fellow.
“The Senior Fellowship Program is designed to support post-tenured faculty who are pursuing an innovative research agenda,” said Karen Roberto, a University Distinguished Professor and director of the institute. “Anthony’s research aligns nicely with the focus of the institute and several of our initiatives.”
Peguero has developed a sustained research agenda that explores the securitization of schools, including physical measures such as the presence of surveillance devices and security personnel, and social steps, such as implementation of zero-tolerance policies and enhanced punishment.
“We need to focus on improving the school environment and creating a healthy and more positive opportunity for development of youth within schools,” Peguero said.
He sees schools as not only a place to get an education, but also a site of social and personal development. Yet protecting schools from “bullying and mass shootings as almost two ends of the continuum,” as Peguero describes it, has introduced heightened security in the past few decades.
According to Peguero, with increased securitization, “misbehavior, not necessarily delinquency, has become criminalized.”
These measures may have impacts on the school to prison pipeline, and have profound educational and social justice outcomes for racial and ethnic minority youth.
During his time as the senior fellow, Peguero will collaborate with external partners to gather pilot data and prepare multiple grant applications that focus on educational inequality associated with race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, and immigration that marginalize and place students at risk. The fellowship program will cover his time away from the classroom and critical meetings with research partners.
In addition to taking an innovative approach to contemporary social issues, Peguero’s research has the potential to influence both practice and policy.