Fights at school can lead to students feeling unsafe

Principal and Counselor weigh in on school violence

Fights at school can lead to students feeling unsafe

According to a National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the CDC found that 7.8% of students in grades 9-12 have reported participating in a fight on school property and 5.6% reported that they have missed school for one or more days because they felt unsafe at school.  

SFHS Media spoke with teachers, counselors and administrators about the consequences, causes, and how students can help instead of hinder during an altercation.

“Sometimes students will get into a conflict or disagreement and violence will seem like the most immediate or quickest reactions students can have.” Said A-E Student Counselor, Samantha Schmidt. “It can sometimes seem like the only reaction to handle a situation, which is definitely not true.”

SFHS Media asked Principal Doug Austin what some of the consequences are for students who are involved in school violence.

“There’s a lot of different forms of school violence. Certainly fights that may occur or things along those lines are taken very seriously as far as from a school standpoint.” said Austin. “There is some set criteria that we look at but there’s also a little bit of a variance as far as what might happen. For a fight it would be out-of-school suspension, potentially in-school suspension depending on what happens and the scenario.”

Not only are students at risk while engaging in a school fight, but teachers also have things they are risking while getting involved in a school fight.

“The first and maybe the most important thing is they risk their own personal and physical harm when becoming involved in a school fight. There is some risk of what we may call liability and by that is a student who might be injured in a fight could possibly seek some type of damages from either the school or an individual teacher,” said Teachers Union Representative Michael Stoffel. “Teachers do have some protections during those cases. We do have some due process rights as well as protection through the Education of Minnesota and our local Union which will usually advocate for the teacher as well.”

Schmidt recommends students get an adult right away if they see a fight break out.

“If you see a violent situation happening it can sometimes be very natural to freeze by what is called the bystander effect, where everyone stops and watches,” said  Schmidt. “The first thing to do is to go get an adult immediately, it doesn’t matter who the adult is but that would be the first and most important thing to do if you are witnessing violence within the school.”