According to a recent Institute of Education Sciences survey conducted through the U.S. Department of Education, North Carolina public schools reported increased student disciplinary issues, such as crime and violence, during the 2021-22 school year.
In this period, 11,170 instances of crime and violence occurred in North Carolina public schools, with a rate of 7.51 acts per 1,000 students enrolled, according to the survey.
Compared to the 2018-19 school year, the most recent pre-pandemic school year, the total number of crimes and violence went up by 16.9 percent while the rate per 1,000 students increased by 16.3 percent.
The five-year difference in the number and rate of crimes also saw an increase from the 2017-18 academic year. The number of crimes increased by 14.6 percent and the rate of crimes increased by 17.2 percent.
Of a representative sample of North Carolina public schools, 84 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected students' behavioral development. Furthermore, 87 percent of schools agreed or strongly agreed that the pandemic impacted students' socio-emotional development.
According to the press release, students struggled to go back to in-person learning after experiencing social and academic challenges due to remote learning, quarantine and limited interactions with peers and teachers.
A $17 million federal grant was given to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to assist 15 less-funded school districts in providing more mental health resources for their students.
“We know that the pandemic in and of itself was considered a childhood adverse event, and it was a traumatic event for young people,” LaVerne Mattocks-Perry, senior executive director for student support services for Durham Public Schools, said.
Mattocks-Perry said that public schools in Durham have focused on using restorative practices. These practices allow school faculty and staff to give 80 percent of their focus to relationship-building with students and 20 percent of their focus to dealing with student disciplinary issues, she said.