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of the K-12 school-age population
of the students who received at least one out-of-school suspension

more likely to receive a school suspension than white girls

more likely to receive a school suspension than white boys

"Suspended is a penetrating study that reveals how school suspensions and unfair grading practices target inner-city Black children and set them up to fail in later life—a stinging indictment and a must-read for anyone wanting to truly understand persistent urban poverty."

— Elijah Anderson,

Yale University, author of Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City

suspended book release flyer.jpg

"Bell's analysis of students' experiences with anti-Blackness and school punishment is both powerful and gut-wrenching. Educators and student advocates who are serious about reducing violence in schools—especially the violence schools themselves perpetrate—need to read this unique and important book."

— Aaron Kupchik, University of Delaware, author of The Real School Safety Problem: The Long-Term Consequences of Harsh School Punishment

"Well-conceived and organized, as well as theoretically and empirically rich, this book holds the promise to impact practice and policy. Adding to the literature on school violence and the many ways it negatively impacts the educational experiences of Black students, it also draws from the ideas of antiblackness, which make it fresh, timely, and relevant to contemporary conversations."


Keffrelyn D. Brown     University of Texas at Austin, coauthor of Black Intellectual Thought in Education: The Missing Traditions of Anna Julia Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, and Alain LeRoy Locke

SUSPENDED: Punishment, Violence & The Failure of School Safety

The disturbing truth: school suspension does more than impede Black students’ academic achievement—it also impacts their parents’ employment and can violate state and federal laws.

Focusing on schools in inner-city and suburban Detroit, Bell draws on 160 in-depth interviews with Black high school students, their parents, and their teachers to illuminate the negative outcomes that are associated with out-of-school suspension. Bell also sheds light on the inherent shortcomings of school safety measures as he describes how schools fail to protect Black students, which leaves them vulnerable to bullying and victimization. The students he interviews offer detailed insight into how the lack of protection they received in school intensified their fear of being harmed and even motivated them to use violence to establish a reputation that discouraged attacks.
A thought-provoking and urgent work, Suspended calls for an inclusive national dialogue on school punishment and safety reform. It will leave readers engrossed in the students' and parents' tearful narratives as they share how school suspension harmed students' grades, disrupted parents' employment, violated state and federal laws, and motivated them to withdraw from punitive districts.



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Dr. Charles Bell is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences. His research explores students' and parents' perceptions of out-of-school suspension, school safety measures, and law enforcement officers. His work has been published in several scholarly and public engagement outlets such as Urban EducationChildren and Youth Services ReviewJournal of Crime and JusticeThe ConversationSociology CompassKappan, etc. The Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) selected his book, Suspended: Punishment, Violence, and the Failure of School Safety (Johns Hopkins Press, 2021) as a finalist for the 2021 C. Wright Mills Book Award. Dr. Bell is also a recipient of the 2021-2022 CAST Outstanding Teacher Award (Pre-Tenure), the 2019 Midwest Sociological Society Research Grant, and the ISU African American Studies Summer Research Initiative award.


If you attended a school that failed to provide essential resources to facilitate students’ learning, such as a classroom and a teacher, would it harm you? When students receive out-of-school suspensions for subjective offenses that result in several weeks of missed instruction and low achievement, is that not violence?


~ Dr. Charles Bell


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