As part of a new Campus Crime Stoppers program, students at Lubbock Cooper Junior High could earn $5 to $20 each time they report certain prohibited behaviors. While the school says it is receiving mostly positive feedback, controversy began when one student had a cell phone taken away. Now, a couple of parents have come forward with concerns.
One parent, who asked NewsChannel 11 not to use her name, says, "I was extremely shocked. It really took me back." When asked, "Why did it shock you?" She said, "The fact they are willing to pay these kids to do something like this and, to me, I feel that should be the staff and faculty's job." She says paying reward money to children who turn in their classmates for drugs, weapons or dangerous behavior, puts kids in a stressful situation. She's also worried kids will find ways to abuse the program.
Now, LCISD's Superintendent, Pat Henderson, finds he's forced to defend Crime Stoppers. He says it was designed with the kids in mind. "We're just looking for ways to keep our environment safe for kids and employees."
Henderson says he doesn't buy the idea Campus Crime Stoppers turns kids into snitches and he doubts they'll plant banned items on each other to collect such a small reward. Instead, he points to a past incident where a student reported a classmate with a large knife. He recalls, "That probably prevented someone from getting hurt, so I wouldn't call that young lady a snitch, I'd call her a hero."
Still, the parent NewsChannel 11 spoke to isn't convinced Campus Crime Stoppers is the right way to go. She says, "I know we have to get a handle on weapons and drugs and such, but I just don't feel like it should involve our children and paying them to do it." Henderson says, "It's not like the old days. We're trying to be pre-emptive and stop things before they happen."
NewsChannel 11 questioned Lubbock ISD and Frenship ISD to see if they've ever experimented with a Crime Stoppers program. LISD has not, but they do offer rewards for serious offenses within the district. Frenship used to have a 1-800 number set up to take reports of misconduct. They have done away with that number due to a lack of use.