National Crittenton signs on to the PUSHOUT Act in full support of the bill’s efforts to end the disruption of girls’ education. National Crittenton President Jeannette Pai-Espinosa delivered the following statement at the press briefing introducing the legislation:

National Crittenton is a 136-year-old national advocacy organization with a singular focus on the needs, potential, and power of girls and young people across the gender spectrum, centering those of color.

Jeannette Pai-Espinosa delivers a statement in support of the PUSHOUT Act.

The public education system has always been our best chance at having an early warning system that recognizes the complex context of students’ lives – ideally offering safety, support and opportunities for students to heal, learn and thrive – to offer, in short, what the PUSHOUT Act outlines.

But, today we must confront the reality of the existence of a school to confinement pathway that is generational and that criminalizes girls’ responses to trauma through exclusionary discipline processes, while not addressing the violence, abuse, and neglect that causes the trauma and ignoring the oppression and exploitation that supports it.

And all absent the race/ethnic and gender lens needed to interrogate and address the disproportional impacts on girls of color. From our national justice reform for girls’ work, we can say without hesitation that school push out drives girls who pose little to no risk to public safety into the justice system where they often fall deeper into the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

Change is difficult and requires a system that has the resources and will to be introspective, just and compassionate, one that is responsive to the adversity and challenges present in the lives of the girls and the families it supports. We are honored to support the PUSHOUT Act because it provides a road map to move this transformation in our schools forward.

Let me close by sharing this is an urgent call for education system and social change – because the context of girls’ lives has not changed since 1900 when in an annual report from that year in Crittenton agencies across the country it was revealed that–

The average age of girls who were referred to Crittenton agencies from police, schools, families, churches, etc. was about 15-17 years. They are brought to our doors by six principles reasons:

  • Improper home conditions – neglect
  • Brutality in the home – physical and emotional abuse
  • Bad companions involved in illicit activities – drugs/addiction and gang activity
  • Lack of proper training – absent or incarcerated parents, mental health issues in the home
  • Betrayal by those in whom they placed confidence – trafficking and exploitation
  • Brutal sex acts – sexual violence – in all forms assault, incest, rape – etc.

Today, we use Adverse Childhood Experiences data in our work to quantify the barriers and obstacles girls’ face through no fault of their own. Those 6 reasons from 1900 and the ACE forms of adversity used today are the same—not much has changed—except today girls in our agencies in 31 states are younger and their needs are more acute.

Schools must address the trauma in girls’ lives and be safe, healing spaces of opportunity and justice. Schools are the best chance we have at an early warning system—so let’s follow the leadership of girls and get it done, starting with passing the PUSHOUT Act!

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National Crittenton catalyzes social and systems change for girls and young women impacted by chronic adversity, violence, and injustice. National Crittenton is the umbrella for the 26 members of the Crittenton family of agencies providing direct services in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Together we work to provide support, advocacy and opportunities for girls, young women and their families at the national level and in local communities across the country.