Original Reporting Exposing a Disturbing Trend in Elementary Schools Across the Country Where Students Are Handcuffed for Relatively Minor Disciplinary Actions

Will Roll Out Across CBS Stations in 14 Markets, Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 15

Nov. 15, 2022 – The CBS Local News Innovation Lab has partnered with CBS-owned stations across the country to produce a data-driven investigation covering numerous reports of elementary school-aged children being arrested at school. The Innovation Lab’s analysis of U.S. Department of Education data has found hundreds of students across the country have been handcuffed at school for relatively minor disciplinary actions, including a disproportionate number of Black children and children with disabilities.

CBS Stations investigative correspondent Stephen Stock will break a national story revealing the states with the most elementary school arrests during CBS-owned stations’ local newscasts this week, beginning Tuesday, Nov. 15. Stock will report on why the arrests are happening, the impact on children, which students are most affected and potential solutions that are being explored.

The Innovation Lab team’s analysis found more than 700 children (fifth grade and younger) were arrested in U.S. elementary schools during the 2017-2018 school year alone. Children with documented disabilities were found to be four times more likely to be arrested at school, according to the analysis of the 2017-18 U.S. Department of Education data. Black students were even more disproportionately affected. They made up nearly half of all arrests at elementary schools during the 2017-18 school year even though they accounted for just 15% of the student population in those schools.

In his report, Stock holds local, state and national officials accountable, asking why arrests of children are happening under their watch. Stock showed assistant secretary for the Department of Education office of civil rights Catherine Lhamon video of a 7-year-old autistic boy being arrested. “There’s very little that I saw in that video that is acceptable, and there’s very little on that video that is consistent with federal civil rights obligations,” Lhamon said.

Following Stock’s report, CBS-owned stations in 14 major markets will follow up this week with localized reporting that identifies specific schools where students have been arrested in their communities.

“This latest collaboration between the CBS Local News Innovation Lab and our stations across the country illustrates the breadth and depth of our reporting capabilities as part of our unified CBS News and Stations organization and shines a light on disturbing local and national events,” said Adrienne Roark, president of CBS Stations. “The Innovation Lab is a tremendous resource for our stations and we look forward to continue to report data-driven stories in a way that super serves our audiences and differentiates CBS Stations from its competitors.”

“We prioritize solutions journalism in projects like this, aiming to generate conversation, engagement and potential action in our communities,” said Chad Cross, vice president of content development at CBS Stations. “On this issue, we believe it’s important for our communities to see what’s happening in Georgia. In 2018, the state changed its approach, training their school resource officers to help students reach graduation, rather than making arrests. We discovered this by attending a conference of school resource officers this summer, and we knew it needed to be a primary part of the story.”

Cross added that the Innovation Lab began working on this investigation after seeing WBBM-TV investigative reporter Dave Savini and his colleagues report on arrests at schools in the Chicago area. “We decided it was something to scale across our station group, and also we chose to look at the youngest age group (fifth grade and younger), something we believe has not been reported on previously.”

In addition to Stock’s national report and localized CBS Stations’ stories, additional information about the “Handcuffs in Hallways” investigation will be published on the stations’ websites. The supplemental online reporting includes a look at school resource officers (SRO) and whether they make kids safer at school. This story features an interview with a University of Delaware professor of sociology and criminal justice about his study of SROs.

Stock’s national report will be available for viewing here beginning on Tuesday.


Press Contact:

Mike Nelson



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