Fights are unfortunately a part of school. Anybody who has worked in a school long enough has seen their fair share. I am no exception. As a matter of fact, my school boasts a number of teachers who are either unable or unwilling to break up fights themselves so when a fight breaks out there is often a kid running to my room to get my help. I’ve noticed this has happened more this year than usual. I’m not the only one either. Other teachers and even administrators in the building have taken note too.
At first, I thought this was something confined to my school. Unfortunately, I learned quickly that was not the case because the same day I was thinking about these issues there was a stabbing at North Central high school. That incident prompted the superintendent to put out a video where she acknowledged the uptick in school violence. Students protested about the issue later that week. So, I started wondering is this a nationwide thing?
A quick scan of Google would seem to indicate that it was. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that a Google search, no matter how exhaustive it is, isn’t exactly a scientific study. And of course, there isn’t conclusive data about something like this out there 2 months into school. But around the country, school districts are self-reporting that they are experiencing more fights and violent incidents.
Why would this be the case?
There are a number of theories I hav e… again none of which are scientific, but all based on what I have seen and what students told me.
- Students are out of practice when it comes to socialization.
We don’t give students enough credit for their social skills. Most students really do handle conflict appropriately most of the time. Going to school and interacting with hundreds of other kids gives you a chance to practice conflict resolutions skills. So, it stands to reason that when kids lost that practice for over a year, we would notice.
- Students are acting on beef that festered for a year and a half.
Just because school was closed doesn’t mean kids don’t still interact with each other. Some of the conflict we have seen at my school is from social media beef that is months old but between kids who would only ever see each other in school. This means there may be a backlog of unresolved beef coming through schools for a while.
- Teachers are out of practice.
Previously, I wrote about teachers being out of practice when it comes to interacting and teaching students in person. That probably plays a role in some of the fights. Fight prevention is a skill that you sharpen over time. Without practice, it can dull. As a teacher when you hear someone yell in the hallway “So what’s up then?” you should immediately know a fight might be in the works. I hadn’t had to act on that phrase in 15 months. It is likely the same for many other teachers.
Whatever the actual reason for the uptick in fighting, it is important for the schools experiencing it to react to it quickly, so it doesn’t get worse. Schools that are not experiencing the uptick should be proactive about resolving conflicts, so they don’t experience this trend.