Recent incidents raise issue of school safety | #schoolsaftey

Cameron Gonzalez, 15, hugs fellow student Izzy Sullivan 18, while Cameron’s mom, Amy Gonzalez, stands nearby after students were released from the football field following a fatal stabbing at Montgomery High School, Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in Santa Rosa, Calif. According to Gonzalez, her son and Izzy were in the office when a boy came in, said he had been stabbed, and then collapsed. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat via AP)

(NewsNation) — The fatal stabbing of a student inside a classroom at a Northern California high school is part of a worsening crisis in American classrooms amid significant staffing shortages.

Violence and misbehavior are among the many reasons educators have been leaving the profession by the thousands.

In the Santa Rosa, California, incident, a 16-year-old Montgomery High School student was involved in a fight Wednesday before being fatally stabbed. Another student also suffered a stab wound, and the suspect, a 15-year-old freshman, is in custody, according to police.

Teachers initially broke up the fight, but the freshman pulled out a folding knife and stabbed the victims, Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan said during a news conference.

The school did not have school resource officers (SRO) on campus because the community pushed to remove them in 2020.

“It’s really important to understand that the Santa Rosa Police Department did not remove the SROs from the school campus,” Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan. “So I think that’s very important. That’s a decision by the Santa Rosa School Board.”

The deadly fight joins a long list of recent incidents inside American schools.

In Florida, a 17-year-old male Matanzas High School special needs student attacked a school employee.

Surveillance footage shows the student pushing the victim several feet, knocking her to the floor and rendering her unconscious.

Officials said the student became upset after the teacher’s aide took his Nintendo Switch away from him during class. The student is now facing felony charges and is being held on a $1 million bond.

The incident comes on the heels of an investigation in Virginia after a 6-year-old boy shot and wounded his first-grade teacher.

Federal statistics show that classroom misconduct is up by 56% since the pandemic.

“Schools, the children in the schools are actually getting more violent,” said Dr. Norman Fried, Clinical Psychologist and professor at Columbia University.

Fried said research shows that social media has a role to play.

“And one of the reasons is because there are children who are overexposed to trauma and violence from social media,” he said.

In Illinois, there has been an increase in assaults and threats to school personnel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Illinois Education Association (IEA).

Local reports cite a recent IEA study that found that 23% of school employees have reported incidents of physical violence from students during the pandemic. This is up from 6% of teachers reporting they had been physically attacked by students prior to the pandemic, according to IEA officials.

In New York City, violence is on the rise in and around city schools, according to a recent New York Post report, with shootings, stabbings and killings on the rise.

Three students have been slain so far in the 2022-23 school year, and at least 18 have been either stabbed or shot, according to the report.

Those incidents include a 16-year-old girl stabbed multiple times with a knife inside a women’s bathroom at a school.

An expert blames gang disputes and gun-toting youth for the rise in violence.

In North Carolina, at least 13 firearms have been found in the state’s public schools in February alone, according to the News & Observer.

The News & Observer report states that there are incidents across the state on an almost daily basis of schools going into lockdowns due to threats of violence or weapons being found on campus.

North Carolina schools reported a rise in student misconduct, crime and violence during the 2021-22 school year compared to the years immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to state data.

The incidents are causing school leaders to look for solutions, from installing metal detectors to reviewing school resource officer programs.

According to one school security expert, SROs can only do so much.

“They should be only one component in a comprehensive plan for school safety, they shouldn’t be the whole plan,” said Dr. Amy Klinger, director of the Educator’s School Safety Network.

Back in Santa Rosa, the school board remains against the presence of SROs despite the deadly stabbing.

“I believe that there are other options besides law enforcement being inside our campuses that contribute to safety,” said Santa Rosa school board president Stephanie Manieri.

Dr. Fried told NewsNation “school resource officers actually are one way that we can actually help reduce the likelihood of this type of violence.”

In one Florida community, city commissioners unanimously approved a permanent youth curfew to curb juvenile crime. 

In South Dakota, legislators voted to place juvenile offenders in Department of Corrections custody after three infractions.

In Kentucky, legislation was advanced to reopen a youth detention center in the state’s largest city as its juvenile justice system has struggled to house increasing numbers of youths accused of violent offenses, according to local reports.

Advocates argue locking up juvenile offenders is not the answer, and that providing mental health care is essential.

But some predict behavior issues will persist in many schools due to a host of societal factors and widespread staffing problems aren’t helping.

“This constant turnover and a lack of people that students can connect with, the more violence and acting out behaviors are going to have because relationships are what stops violence,” Klinger said.

According to the department of education, 47 states are dealing with teacher shortages.

“This can’t just be a school issue alone,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association. “But we should have expectations that as teachers and staff who work in our schools and as students who attend our schools, that they are going to be safe.”

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