Across the U.S., one of the nation’s most difficult academic years was also one of the most violent. Experts who track school behavior nationwide said fights and other aggressive behavior, including shootings, appear to have increased. With students heading out on summer break, schools are taking stock of what went wrong and how to fix it, the Associated Press reports. Educators and psychologists say the pandemic contributed to the volatility in schools by causing a surge in student mental health problems, trauma at home, a lack of socializing opportunities, and a shortage of teachers and counselors that reduced adult supervision and guidance. There is no national data that tracks school fights and assaults, but education officials say violence erupted more often and more fiercely.
“Without doubt, we are hearing across the board that schools are experiencing significantly more crises related to school violence and emotional behavioral crises,” said Sharon Hoover, co-director of the National Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The same issues are likely to resurface in the fall, she said, if struggling adolescents don’t get the help and structure they need. The Clark County School District in Las Vegas, one of the country’s largest, has said it will provide teachers with panic buttons after an increase in violence, including an April attack on a teacher that left her unconscious in her classroom. The district’s police chief, Mike Blackeye, said the 2021-22 school year was the busiest in his department’s 40-year history.