Before the school year started, K-12 safety experts warned that the isolation, trauma, and other hardships experienced during the pandemic can lead to increased mental health crises and school violence. Unfortunately, many school communities across the country are now seeing this unfold.
Seven students were charged with aggravated riot after a large fight broke out at an Ohio high school. Nearly 100 people were involved in the fight that prompted the school to go into lockdown.
Twenty-three students at a Louisiana high school were arrested in a matter of 3 days for fighting on campus. This prompted a group of dads to form Dads on Duty to promote a positive environment where students learn instead of fight.
A Pennsylvania high school recently stopped in-person classes for two days. This decision was not based on a COVID-19 outbreak, but rather because the school received credible threats after multiple student altercations.
These are just some of the recent incidents that made headlines this school year.
Increase in Student Fights and Behavioral Issues
Both school violence and behavioral issues have significantly increased since schools reopened. Many experts think this is because students are readjusting to in-person instruction after months—if not years—of isolation. Experts are especially concerned about the impacts of social isolation, as this is one of the main risk factors for students who commit acts of violence in schools. Many students also lost access to critical mental health resources during the pandemic, making it even more challenging to cope with the trauma and isolation they have experienced.
Some people think social media and cyberbullying are also leading to increased altercations. Some fights that began on social media or online while schools were closed are being continued face-to-face since students are together again.
Teachers across the country are also seeing students of all ages act out. Some students simply do not understand how to act their age or grade level. Many of them have forgotten what it is like to be around other children and how to solve problems by talking through issues instead of fighting. These are skills that need to be relearned.
Other students are being defiant, as it’s been almost two years since they have had to follow classroom rules. Teachers have reported that students are pushing others, throwing things, jumping on furniture, and refusing to do classwork.
Students are also mimicking others’ behavior. In a recent Raptor webinar, Frank DeAngelis, principal of Columbine during the 1999 mass shooting, discussed his concerns of students modeling the irate behavior they see from adults responding to COVID-19-related decisions. “Kids are watching,” he reminds us. “That’s a major concern I have right now in our society and in our school communities.”
When Situations Escalate
Whether it’s a fight or a student acting out, situations like these can quickly escalate if school staff does not intervene.
Since September 2021, our country has experienced 23 on-campus shootings that originally began as disputes, according to the Center for Homeland Defense & Security. These incidents include what happened at Timberview High School in Texas, where a student shot another student during a fight in a classroom. Just a week prior in a Tennessee school, one student shot another during a fight in the stairwell. Before that incident, a student in a Virginia school fired multiple shots during a fight in a hallway.
When students are misbehaving and the teacher has lost control of the classroom, the situation can also escalate quickly. For example, if students continue to throw things at one another, it can end in a physical confrontation or an injury that requires medical attention.
Schools Must be Prepared to Act Fast
All school staff should have a mobile panic button with Team Assist. This enables staff to initiate incidents from wherever they are located and instantly alert others—like the principal or school resource officer (SRO)—about the type of incident and what assistance is needed. If a situation escalates, the mobile panic button should enable users to directly call or text 9-1-1 and automatically share critical details, such as caller name and precise location on campus, with dispatchers.
Raptor Alert, a mobile panic button, empowers staff to do just that—and much more—so that any size situation can quickly be addressed and resolved.
To learn more about Raptor, contact us to schedule a personalized demo.