From Pasco to St. Paul, how to target kids for success, not crime

December 15, 2020

Big data can be used for good, not bad. Here’s how, writes a Harvard specialist.

A recent Tampa Bay Times investigation reported that the Pasco Sheriff’s Office “keeps a secret list of kids it thinks could ‘fall into a life of crime.’” Triangulating data from multiple public agencies, like histories of abuse from child welfare and academic failure from the school system, the office generated a prediction of more than 400 students who may become criminals. One can only imagine how a list like this could be used.

This is an egregious violation of ethics for which all public departments engaged in data sharing must be held to account. While it is possible that agency leaders were unaware of the data sharing arrangement, ignorance does not absolve leaders from culpability. Instead, this should be a call to all school system leaders to understand how their data is being shared and put guardrails in place to protect student information.



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See also: In the News, 2020