One in three principals reported a rise in school fights during the 2021-2022 school year, and most are certain the pandemic is to blame.
School fights have been growing in frequency for quite some time. But for many school officials, the problem has been greatly exacerbated over the last two years. Many principals feel there is one major reason for this alarming increase, and they are blaming the matter on the pandemic.
Nowadays, it seems the COVID pandemic is the easy scapegoat for nearly anything in the world. But for many school administrators, the writings on the wall. Recent federal data shared by Chalkbeat shows that one in three school leaders noticed an increase in school fights between students, and they all felt that it was part of the lingering effects of the pandemic. That’s not all, as more than half of those school officials stated that classroom disruptions were on the rise too, which they also believe is due to pandemic effects.
The information was gathered from a 2022 School Pulse Panel, which gathered information in May from surveys from over 850 public school leaders who were mainly made up of principal respondents. For many respondents, school fights were an outlining feature of the past school year, which they claim complicated attempts to return to “normalcy” following school disruptions and closures. So why, and how exactly, is the pandemic to blame for this?
Many feel that mental health issues and stress were heightened during the pandemic. This has already proven to be a disruptive matter for many institutes. At the beginning of this past school year, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Children’s Hospital Associations all declared child mental health concerns a national emergency. Ultimately, increased levels of stress lead to aggression and therefore are a common factor leading to school fights.
Grief could be another precursor to school fights. It is estimated that about 200,000 children across the United States have lost parents or caregivers to COVID since the onset of the pandemic. This weighted heavily on not only academics but behavioral issues that lead to class disruptions and school fights. And as contentious as the pandemic has been, with many arguing over its severity of it, this not only affected adults fighting over the issue but also their children in school. Now, mask bullying has become a major concern in schools.
In Duval County, Florida, schools reported a 47% increase in school fights compared to the 2018-19 school year. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, fights broke out at a 26% increase over that same time period. In the Northside school district of Texas, fights were up more than 20%.
At the same time that this information was released, a separate report depicts a notion that school bullying, overall, has decreased over the last few years. However, many are skeptical of this data, considering there are likely many factors at play leading to this, such as fewer reports of bullying due to schools being closed. Now, it is hard to deny the reports of the school leaders who see the happenings in classrooms and the halls each and every day. School fights have worsened this year, and yes, the pandemic is at the very least a little to blame.