The Vaccine to Violence?

All over the country, schools have seen a rise in violence. Some schools have moved to days of asynchronous learning in order to put a stop to the countless fights staff and students are facing every day. In fact, Woodgrove High School had an incident earlier this year involving both a student and a teacher. Keep in mind that the rest of Loudoun County is not immune to this national phenomenon and even the nation as a whole. 

 

But why is this occurring? Why do students and staff have so much anger and frustration now? Well, after shutting down for a year and a half due to COVID, no one’s emotional intelligence (collaboration, risk taking, and imagination) has seen any growth, except in consequential thinking, according to the State of Heart Study done by the nonprofit organization Six Seconds, based in California. Every person was isolated from their friends, whether those were coworkers or other students in classes. Socially, the human race was stunted. For many, their only socialization was with family. I’m sure, as everyone can attest to, family, while significant to us, can be a bit much. Frustration built up. Anger bubbled. Whether we feel it or not, it’s there, beneath the surface of everyone’s masks.

 

How do we fix this issue? Well, for starters: be open and responsive to new relationships. The only way for us as a school to move past the last year and a half’s pain is to learn who we are again, student by student, staff by staff. While we can participate in icebreakers, that does not equate to an actual bond or connection. We need more. Every teacher and student must be accepting of each other. Teachers can’t keep students at arm’s length, never creating a bond with them. And students can’t judge a teacher for who they choose to be in the classroom. 

 

This relationship occurs naturally… if both parties are willing. Before the start of the school day, I’ve seen countless students popping into teachers’ classrooms like they’re old friends. I’ve seen alumni searching for their favorite teachers during their breaks. It’s nothing new, but with violence on a rise, there’s never been this much of a need for a support system for both staff and students.

 

From a student perspective, having a personal, real connection with a teacher makes their class worth going the extra mile. It makes it real knowing that there’s someone who cares for you at school. I had a long conversation catching up with one teacher because he missed me, and I missed him. I had another teacher reach out to me to share her spectacular news. These bonds that we form not only create a support system, but make students and teachers excited to go to school.

 

Relationships matter. Real ones, that we’ve built not in an obligatory fashion, but a natural one. The answer to getting violence to decrease is to create an open conversation between students and teachers that lead to these meaningful, lasting relationships. To release the anger, frustration, and sadness that’s been developing in everyone, a lasting feeling of belonging and of being trusted is needed. Whether you’re a teacher, a student, or someone else in the school system, open yourself up to forming a new connection and seeing if that makes all the difference.