7 On Your Side investigates: School violence is skyrocketing in our region as children struggle with stress, depression and anxiety

NEW YORK (WABC) – Summer can’t come soon enough for teachers and administrators in our region and the country, as schools have faced an upsurge in student violence.

Students and parents in our area have reported an increase in fights in school buildings – in hallways, bathrooms, cafeterias, even classrooms and outdoors on school property.

Makayla Jones, a high school student from West Babylon High School, showed Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne the scars she still has on her face and back after she was attacked by two girls with a pen in March in the school hallway.

“They both dragged me to the floor,” she said.

Jones said she didn’t know the girls, who were freshmen. She said the fight was broken up by janitors.

Jones suffered a concussion and bruised ribs, and she hasn’t been back to school since the attack because she heard from her friends that the girls said if she came back to school they would would shoot her and her family.

“It was terrible and sad because it’s my last year,” she said.

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Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne heard from other parents about violence in the North Babylon School District. A mother said her Year 9 daughter was punched in the face at school, while the mother of a Year 6 boy said her son was tackled by a group of boys in class gym and broke his wrist.

A student at Robert Moses Middle School said she was recently confronted by a girl in the bathroom asking her to fight.

“She started hitting me on the back of the head,” the girl said.

Parents get involved too.

Suffolk Police say on March 18 Racquel Stewart of North Babylon attacked a boy with a metal pipe because she said the boy disturbed her son at school and beat him.

According to the criminal complaint, Stewart “striked the juvenile victim repeatedly with a metal pipe, causing a bone fracture in her left arm which required medical treatment at Good Samaritan Hospital.”

According to the complaint, Stewart told police, “I know it was wrong. I let my emotions get the better of me and I shouldn’t have done that. They’ve been bothering my son for a while and I I told the school before I got upset when they told me he had been beaten and I saw he was bleeding.

Eyewitness News has reached out to Stewart and his attorney for comment. They did not return our calls or texts.

Eyewitness News has obtained emails parents sent to North Babylon School District Superintendent Glen Eschbach detailing their concerns about violence in schools. In an email, a mother writes that she herself witnessed a girl being attacked on school property.

“I am very concerned for the safety of my daughter,” she wrote.

“As parents, we should reasonably expect our children to be safe at school,” another parent wrote.

“I wonder if our police department needs to be informed,” yet another wrote.

Eschbach told Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne that the district has taken steps to address the violence, including hiring more security guards, adding “a lot” more security cameras high definition, hiring additional social workers and seeking to add another psychologist.

“The district has made a concerted effort to increase its staffing of middle and high school security guards to bolster hallway and cafeteria surveillance,” Eschbach said. “Recent research shows that behavioral issues seen across the country in schools are a direct reflection of the stress the pandemic has placed on children. Students have seen their education, schedules and social lives disrupted. problems or overlapping effects of poverty and family distress. The North Babylon School District will continue to support its students to ensure they have access to resources, support, and the ability to develop the skills necessary to help them regulate their emotions in positive and productive ways. way.”

School violence isn’t just happening on Long Island, as it’s been a violent year at schools in our area.

In April, three students were injured in a knife fight while being fired from Spring Valley High School. In May, a 17-year-old Ossining High School student allegedly threatened a student with a knife and hit another student with his car. And in December, students staged a strike at Susan E. Wagner High School in Staten Island after fights involving guns at the school.

Schools across the country have reported an increase in violence among students and between students and teachers.

In Las Vegas, a 16-year-old high school student was charged with sexual assault and attempted murder for allegedly attacking a teacher in a classroom. In Florida, a teacher was hospitalized after being assaulted by a 5-year-old student. And in Ohio, the teachers advocated with their local school board to provide more support as they face increased threats from students.

The Department of Homeland Security has warned the public about this issue in a public bulletin last summersaying the threat of targeted violence in schools will remain high across the country as children return to school and deal with depression and feelings of isolation caused by the pandemic.

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Deena Abbe, a child psychologist from Long Island, said children absorb the angst of the world.

“The bullying is relentless,” she said. “Really, it’s not children who are children anymore.”

She said parents need to do a better job of protecting their children from our emotionally charged society.

“There’s all this anxiety and stress within society, and we pass it on to these kids,” she said.

Abbe said something parents can do right now to help relieve their children’s stress is to eliminate or limit their child’s use of social media.

She also said that if a parent has mental health issues they should seek help as soon as possible because children can sense when their parents are having problems and this causes more anxiety and stress in children. .

DO YOU NEED A STORY INVESTIGATION? Dan Krauth, Kristin Thorne and the 7 On Your Side Investigates team at Eyewitness News want to hear from you! Call our confidential information line at 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397) or fill out the form BELOW.

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