Starting in 2017, schools in Missouri will no longer handle the aftermath of fights between students internally. According to a new statute, School Resource Officers (SROs) and local authorities will now get involved and students may be charged with a felony.

Think Progress originally reported that the new statute will take effect on Jan. 1 and could play a major role in strengthening the school-to-prison pipeline, which could see an increasing number of kids with criminal records at a young age. 

As numerous accounts have shown, once someone is introduced into the criminal justice system, it can be a trying task to move on without returning to it.

The new statute makes students who fight on school property – which includes buses – eligible for a Class E felony of assault in the third degree , which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Threats to cause harm could result in a Class A misdemeanor and the assault of a “special person” could result in a Class D felony with a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

This new step will surely have a significant impact on the futures of Black and Brown children if upheld, and there’s no telling how much it could negatively influence communities of color on a grand scale.