School fights spark fear in students


Canva by Emma Dela Cruz.

Clare Sheehan, Culture Editor

This previously ran in our October 2022 Print Issue.

Whether it be in-person or spread through social media, students frequently find themselves witnessing fights, even in the first few days of school. 

In a CDC report from 2019, around 8% of high school students said they had been in a physical fight at school in the previous 12 months, and nearly 9% said they’d skipped a day of school during the previous 30 days because they felt unsafe at or on their way to or from school due to threats or actions of violence. In fact, nearly 7% of high school students were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the last 12 months. 

In addition to physical violence, mass shootings cause further fear for students. Recently, America mourned the loss of 19 students and two teachers in the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting. After it was discovered that the police responding to the shooting waited more than an hour to before finally killing the gunman, millions were outraged. Brett Cross, father of one of the victims, even protested outside the school district. But instead of caring about students’ safety, politicians remained focused on gun policy and rights. 

 In President Biden’s remarks on the Uvalde shooting, he said, “As a nation, we have to ask: when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” 

On the other hand, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said, “Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it. You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.” 

With little progress in gun reform, young people will continue to see these violent events in the news — but not just shootings. 

In addition to gun violence, physical fighting in schools is still a problem. Although the culture of school fights isn’t new, it does seem to be especially prevalent at Emmaus High School as students witnessed fist fights even during the first two weeks of school. 

EPSD has done plenty of work to attempt an end to fights in school — with more staff at lunch, in the hallways, and websites like Safe2Say where students can report fights, threats, and other issues. But instead of constantly increasing the level of security in the building, why not teach students how to effectively deal with their own emotions? 

Anger seriously impacts the safety of students in schools. In fact, Harvard Medical School did a study on teenage anger and discovered two-thirds of American adolescents have experienced an ‘anger attack’ in which they threatened or engaged in violence or destroyed property. Additionally, nearly six million adolescents meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder, a mental health condition in which one has frequent and intense episodes of anger not due to other mental disorders. 

Whether it be a disorder or not, teenagers are prone to anger, and anger fuels fights. This culture of fighting that students regularly witness is not something to ignore — fighting in schools causes students to worry about their own safety, which isn’t something they should face on top of schoolwork, home life, and relationships. 

If schools want fewer fights, they need to teach students about controlling their emotions. Ignoring students’ feelings won’t help the cause. Schools should be a place to learn, make friends, and grow – not a place to fight and harm others.