Report: School Violence, Disciplinary Issues Surge from Coronavirus Lockdowns

Students return to in-person learning at St. Anthony Catholic High School during the Covid-19 pandemic on March 24, 2021 in Long Beach, California. - The school of 445 students implemented a hybrid learning model, with approximately 60 percent of students returning to in an in-person classroom learning environment with Covid-19 …
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Schools across the country are reporting higher levels of violence and other misbehavior as a result of developmental stunting due to draconian pandemic school closures, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In just three subsequent days, 23 students were arrested and expelled from Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, as a result of a string of fights.

One of the brawls started “after two boys exchanged words,” the Journal reported, and began a physical altercation. Soon, “dozens of other students joined and they all fell into a heap, kicking and punching, until teachers pulled them apart.”

This is uncharacteristic for Southwood High School, as the school with a 99 percent graduation rate is known for its football team, scenic ranch location, and biotechnology program. The school’s principal, Kim Pendleton, says part of the problem is because students have been away from in-person schooling for so long.

“You have eighth-graders that are now 10th-graders or seventh-graders that are now ninth-graders,” she said, “and no time to really acclimate.”

But the Southwood issues are not isolated.

Calling them “Covid-19 mental-health scars,” the Journal reported in August of other fights breaking out after children were able to socialize again. The chief executive of a Boys & Girls Club in Los Angeles witnessed the pandemic lockdowns “wreak havoc on the mental health” of the children at his club.

Violence was not the only response, however, because while some children “acted out” by cursing and becoming physical, others “sat by themselves or in small groups.”

But violence or isolation appear to be sides of a spectrum of abnormal behavior from students finally back in school. General classroom disruptions have tripled in Dallas, Texas, according to the Journal, and in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the superintendent sent a letter to parents detailing a “rise in violence and unacceptable behaviors posted to social media.”

More disturbingly, the National Association of School Resource Officers has reported an increase in gun-related incidents among students.

As Breitbart News reported, the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said school-aged children “have experienced a major disruption in their lives, including disruptions to academic structure, participation in activities, peer interactions, lifestyle, and overall physical and emotional health” because of coronavirus policies. Furthermore, 98 percent of pediatricians reported increased anxiety among patients, 95 percent reported an increase in depression, and “even more concerning” is the 58 percent increase in suicidal ideation among children and adolescents.

Similarly, as the Journal pointed out, from March to October 2020, mental health-related emergency room visits of children 5–11 years old increased 24 percent, whereas children 12–17 years old saw a 31 percent increase.

National Association of School Psychologists board member Peter Faustino said school districts across the country are recording dramatic increases in mental health complaints and behavioral outbursts, remarking, “I think the pandemic was like an earthquake and I think we are seeing that tidal wave hit shore.” According to him, the first three months of returning to in-person schooling saw the same level of these issues as would have been normal for an entire school year pre-pandemic lockdown.

Such an increase has led school districts to reevaluate how to discipline students who take part in such activity. As suspension or sometimes expulsion might have been the normal response for some issues before the pandemic, schools like L. V. Stockard Middle School in Oak Cliff, Texas, are sending students who misbehave to a “reset center” to receive counseling.

The school’s “reset center” coordinator, Pierre Fleurinor, said, “In that year off, we lost a lot of social maturity. So, they don’t know how to express their emotions.”

Earlier this month, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a public health advisory on mental health issues for children, adolescents, and young adults, saying, “It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place.”

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.


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