Local school districts facing increase in violence, some experts blame COVID

TULSA, Okla. — Some parents think the most dangerous part of their children’s school day is getting to and from school.

That’s where they face the possibility of fights.

Over the past two years about increases in fights, behaviors, and TikTok challenges in schools that experts say are a result of COVID.

“I’ve had an apple thrown at my head and have had like tacks thrown at my neck,” one student said.

The upward trend of violence in schools and the influences social media has that caused vandalism in schools or worse, unfortunate situations that end in someone being killed, like the McLain football game last year where a student was shot.

These increased behaviors caused some teachers to leave.

“It got to the point this year that I said I just can’t do this this year, it’s too much,” one teacher said.

Clinical psychologists say the reason for increased behavioral issues is because of COVID.

Districts like Broken Arrow said they’re seeing more fights and with the elementary kids, the issues have always been there, it’s just increased.

“We’ve seen a real big uptick in anxiety, and with that, kids’ perception of others and what they think about each other and how it impacts them,” said Derek Blackburn with BAPS. “I was looking at our data the other day and some school sights have seen more fights than they did last year. Other sites had less so it depends on the makeup of the students, the culture of the school, and how they’re addressing them.”

Blackburn said he’s seeing a lot of repeat offenders.

“They’re angry with whatever their situation is,” he said. “Either if it’s at home or what’s going on at school, so there are multiple things coming into play.”

He said staff are doing all they can to help students relieve their anxiety and work through problems.

“How can we work together to rectify whatever has taken place and given proper consequence?” Blackburn said.

Times are different due to technology and everyone having a phone.

He said another problem is filming fights and it going on social media.

“Social media is not a kid’s friend,” Blackburn said.

BAPS is cracking down on those filming fights, too.

“Now you’re an active participant,” he continued.

To prevent bullying or escalating the situation.

“Typically they’re pushing it out like, ‘Hey they got into a fight,’ or use it against the other,”

In Owasso, Paul Croft with the district’s safety and security said there are stagnant numbers in violence.

“We haven’t seen an uptick in fights,” Croft said. “It’s the typical fight here and there.”

However, they are encouraging if you see something say something.

“District website. Go to the safety security page to report something,” Croft explained.

Districts like Owasso and BAPS do have Apps and numbers in place you can reach out to report potential bullying, threats, and other activities.

Districts said it’s a team effort to reduce violence and keep everyone safe.