Commitment bias: nowhere to go but wrong

More thoughts on Ahmed and his clock. (Previous post: Ahmed and his clock come to your school, what would happen?)

I think there were other factors at play there, perhaps equally as possible as racism/islamophobia. “Commitment bias” is when a person becomes increasingly committed to a position as they have to explain the reasons publicly. It’s a combination of human nature (in for a penny, in for a pound), peer pressure, and feeling there is no way to back down. Every adult called on the scene became part of the new narrative of “hoax bomb”, which became the only way to move forward instead of standing down.

Now the city and district officials are in this same trap. No way to say, “gee, that was a mistake” without looking weak.

The other is the interplay of the School Resource Officers (SRO) and all the other adults. SROs are meant to bridge between school and police, getting to know students, be a familiar person on the scene. However, it doesn’t always work that way. The bridge can have both positive and negative consequences, sometimes becoming an onramp to the justice system that a kid never recovers from.

In this case, I wonder what the interplay between on and off campus police was. When the outside cops show up, do the SROs feel responsible for defending their turf? Would that play out in protecting a student in trouble and trying to keep him out of trouble or justifying the actions that have already taken place?

Related: Are School Resource Officers Part of the Problem or Solution? (US News and World Report)

Leave a Reply