Violence on the Decline

Physical Violence is on a reduction in Massachusetts schools

A junior at Triton was shoved aside by another student during the moment of silence last year in a Triton history classroom. The junior yelled at his antagonizer shortly before swinging his fist at him and missing, hitting a desk and injuring his hand. The fight continued and the junior was thrown to the ground before the teacher yelled through the room, breaking up the scuffle. The fist fight was over shortly after it started. 

“He starts talkin’ crap, and I swung right at his face twice,” said the junior while describing his first fight before the one in which he injured his hand. 

The junior said that he went to the nurse directly after his second fist fight last year because there was speculation of multiple fractures in his hand. And that after that he went to Mr. Brennan’s office and wasn’t punished but given a warning and told to “stay away from each other,” said the junior.

According to the Student Discipline Data Report from 2012-2013, in Massachusetts there were 54,453 students disciplined because of physical fights. But according to the same reports except from 2017-2018, in Massachusetts there were 40,809 students disciplined because of physical fights. Scott Brennan, Assistant Principal at Triton, said that he thinks it’s because kids are just nicer.

Despite the Junior’s experience in fights, school violence in a whole has gone down in numbers. According to a study performed by the  of U.S. Bureau Justice Statistics, the percentage of children that are afraid of being attacked at school, or on the way to or from school, decreased from 12 percent in 1995, to 3 percent in 2015.

“I think kids are nicer,” said Mr. Brennan, “Kids don’t want to try to hurt people’s feelings. A lot of them don’t want to get in a fight anyways.” 

Mr. Brennan also said that he rarely sees school violence in Triton,  and that it is a lot less compared to when he first started working at Triton in 2006. He also said that he doesn’t see it as a big problem at Triton right now compared to other more important problems for students.

Kathryn Dawe, the Co-Assistant Principal at Triton had a very similar view and said that she thought fights in Triton were extremely rare, especially compared to when she started working here. 

“I think it’s education, I think one of the things that we certainly could and need to continue doing, is we need to learn how to deal with conflict,” said Dawe.

Violence in school is certainly something that should be avoided. Brennan said he sees that once conflicts are taken to someplace where both kids can talk about their issue, they can settle their problems without things escalating. 

When talking about the different steps taken after a fight, Dawe said, “That comes after we find out everything that we need to know about the issue, and also to make sure that the students are safe.”

A staged photo of Emily Hoggard (right) and Kyla Prussman (left) engaging in a fistfight.