Violence in Schools: A National and Local Issue

It is a national trend to see violence in schools increase.  Educating students about ways to reduce it will be key.

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It is a national trend to see violence in schools increase. Educating students about ways to reduce it will be key.

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Violence is an issue that has recently affected communities on a national scale, and unfortunately violent behavior has also found its way into school systems.  SCHS school psychologist Thomas Goble stated, “National and statewide trends indicate that school violence continues to increase across the country.” From bullying, to physical fights, to school shootings, the undeniable hostility on school campuses nationwide has become a pressing issue seeking attention. This raises the question: how can violence in school be prevented and resolved in order to stop the situation from escalating even further?

Defining School Violence

School violence can be defined as brutality (either physical or mental) that occurs against students on school property. Violence in schools has become especially dangerous in recent years, and has hit home, as several of these events have occurred close to Scott County. A recent  article by Mike Stunson, published by Kentucky.com on August 21, 2018, concluded, “An analysis done by the Educator’s School Safety Network shows Kentucky had 77 threats made towards schools last term, which was the eighth-most per capita in the United States. In the previous school year, Kentucky ranked 40th in the country.” The article also stated, “Kentucky had six violent incidents defined as shootings, weapons present, suspicious items found or attacks, the study showed.” This included the shooting at Marshall County High School on January 23, 2018, when a student brought a gun to school, killed two people and left 18 injured.  Even schools in Fayette County have had issues with students bringing weapons to school.

Scott County High School parent Heather Hunt expressed her concern. “As a parent, my worry ranges from seeing more physical fights occurring, all the way to school shootings. This is a huge problem in America and should not be a worry while at work providing for your family. Unfortunately, it’s a constant concern for your children, and nothing is worse than worrying all the time of their well being. Especially when school at one point was their safe place.” 

As humans, we can only control our own behavior. However, if everyone is able to control their own baggage and cope with their struggles in life, there is absolutely no reason why most of all of these situations could be avoidable.”

— Zach Goble, School Psychologist

Factors Behind Local School Violence                                                                                                           

The nationally increased trend of violent behavior has landed here at SCHS and there are noticeable factors that contribute. Scott County High School principal Meocha Williams stated, “If we look at trends, what we will see is that as communities start to grow, sometimes violence makes its way into the school, because there are just greater populations that are then feeding into the school.”

Growth is not the only factor that leads to violence.  Technology and the speed in which information can be transferred is contributing.  In today’s society of social networking and digital streaming, it’s increasingly more difficult to stop the spread of bullying, fight videos or even threats because they now surface on the internet. Principal Williams commented, “As we start to see more desensitization in social media, sometimes students don’t necessarily see the immediate impacts of how their actions are affecting others, because they are able to hide behind that computer screen.” This can make finding and dealing with conflict between adolescents arguably more difficult for parents, as well as school administrators.

Goble also agreed that technology and social media is impacting violence occurring in schools.  “Current trends indicate that peer-to-peer victimization is often at the root of violent events at school. Cyberbullying or misuse of social media, and peers enticing other peers and adding fuel to the fire both seem to have a significant impact on violence at school. How many times have we seen students filming/snapping fights here at SCHS this year alone? Sadly, people find entertainment in creating or fueling negative situations.”

Filming, instigating and promoting fights is a unfortunate, yet popular trend. However, students don’t always recognize the consequences that often come with posting such examples of bad behavior online.   Scott County High School Sophomore Tia Bruno commented, “People post violence on social media and that influences others to do the same.”

Schools Are Trying to Squash the Violence

School violence can leave an impact that reaches far greater and in many cases has lead to much more serious repercussions. In order to stop the situation from escalating, it’s important to understand, reflect and respond to the measures that are already in place. Some schools have installed metal detectors, resource officers, and some even require students to have school identification cards.

Mrs.Williams stated, “Out of some of these issues, I’ve seen a greater push for ambassador programs, student advocacy, more compassion projects to make sure that we are, as a community, helping to be on the front end of preventing a lot of this.”

Dr. Goble also detailed some ways to stop the drama before it starts. “If you see something, say something. Better yet, if you see something, send something. Send your teacher or administrator a message and let them know what’s happening so they can figure out how to address the situation. Discourage your friends from engaging in verbal or physical aggression at school. Peer pressure doesn’t always have to be negative. If everyone is encouraging you to handle a situation in a positive, helpful, and respectful manner, imagine how different our school would be!” 

Pullquote Photo

Discourage your friends from engaging in verbal or physical aggression at school. Peer pressure doesn’t always have to be negative. If everyone is encouraging you to handle a situation in a positive, helpful, and respectful manner, imagine how different our school would be!”

— Zach Goble, school psychologist

Educating Students Will be Key

Many preventative methods have been tried, anti-bullying campaigns, harsher punishments, rewards systems, and yet schools throughout the country are still probed with the question of how to properly handle and prevent school violence.  Williams stated, “I think some things that we do have in place that help us address [conflict between students], are that we have a district wide reporting app, called security voice, where students can go on there and provide tips or information that they know anonymously which is then sent to administrators.”

However the app is relatively new to several students students and many have questions. Sophomore Caroline Bohannan commented, “I’m unsure about the app, because I don’t know go about accessing it or using it. If I knew more about the app I would consider using it.”

Since students are unaware of this system, plans will be made to educate them about it. Williams added, “We are revamping our efforts to make sure through our class meeting structure to inform students on that avenue, and then utilizing that to be more proactive on mediation providing different lessons to smaller groups of students on how they can effectively resolve conflicts.”

Williams went on to say,  “Obviously when those things occur, as far as bullying, and it’s brought to our attention, we are addressing that aligned to the student code of conduct. Consequences can vary from restorative practice assignments, whether that’s mediation or doing ‘make it right’ activities so they understand the impacts of their actions. It could be in-school suspension, it could be suspicion outside of school, but the whole goal is to change the behavior, so that’s going to depend on the student. But we are still doing the work, in addition to the consequence how are we teaching corrective behavior so that’s not going to continue to be a cycle that we see with that student.”

In essence most of the violence at school is preventable, we must start with ourselves first. Goble concluded, “As humans, we can only control our own behavior. However, if everyone is able to control their own baggage and cope with their struggles in life, there is absolutely no reason why most of all of these situations could be avoidable.”