The school to prison pipeline (STPP) is a disturbing trend that places Black and Brown students at a disproportionate risk of entering the judicial system at early ages which often leads to devastating consequences such as a criminal record and incarceration. Many students of color in low income schools experience intergenerational poverty, the adverse effects of racism and other traumas which require trauma informed interventions such as yoga and mindfulness. Yet these effective practices are not often available. Common responses to student infractions are suspension, expulsion or worse; arrests by law enforcement on school campuses.
This chapter examines the STPP; how it functions and its effects - including individual, community and intergenerational trauma. I discuss my personal connection with the work to bring yoga and healing arts programming to six K-12 title one schools and to one detention center in Winston Salem, North Carolina through the non-profit I founded.
By sharing best practices for teaching in these settings, I argue that education in trauma informed yoga and the arts can play a positive role in disrupting the STPP, in part, by supporting students in reconnecting to their creativity and autonomy. Other measurable outcomes of our work with both students and incarcerated women includes reduced incidents of behavioral issues, improved emotional regulation, increased self-esteem and a stronger sense of wellbeing. More support and funding is needed to expand programming and develop further research in this field.