5 Types of School Violence And How Your IT Team Can Help

August 12, 2021

K-12 IT teams can use a variety of tools to fight these 5 types of school violence

School violence has been a problem as long as there have been schools. In this situation, the word school indicates where the violence takes place, not a type of violence. There are five common types of school violence that interrupt learning and have negative effects on students, teachers, schools, and the community in general.

The CDC conducted a nationwide Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2019, and found that in a year’s time, high school students reported a range of types of school violence.

  • 20% of students were bullied on school property, and 8% reported being the victim of cyberbullying
  • 8% of students were in a physical fight at school one or more times
  • 7% of students have been threatened with or injured by a weapon one or more times on school property
  • 9% of students stayed away from school at least one day in a 30-day period because they feared for their safety either at school or on the way to and from school

According to a recent report by the U.S. Secret Service, Averting Targeted School Violence, prevention and taking action early is a critical task for school leaders. Their research indicates that there are almost always indicators that a student is moving toward violence. The report concluded that school violence is almost always preventable when warning signs are identified, and the community takes action.

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The Secret Service report found that students are in a position to identify dangerous behavior. They encourage schools and communities to take an active role in making it easy for students to report what they see.

IT teams in K-12 schools also play an important role in reducing school violence. They can spot student safety signals that appear in school technology, and they should be proactive in reporting signs that a student is troubled before that student resorts to some type of school violence.

5 Types of School Violence

The CDC has identified five common types of violent behavior that plague schools. School violence can happen on school grounds or at school-sponsored events. These behaviors also intrude on a student when they are on the way to or returning from school or an event. Importantly, these types of behaviors are also showing up online—in social media, online gaming, and even on school-provided collaboration technology such as Google Docs, chat and video apps, and email.

1. Bullying and Cyberbullying

Bullying is harmful to students on both sides of the issue. The student doing the bullying is typically acting out due to some personal stress. There can also be long-term effects for the student being bullied. It’s known that those students who are bullied often struggle academically, develop social anxiety, engage in self-harm and risky behaviors like using drugs and alcohol.

Bullying can be verbal or physical when a bully uses insults or attacks a fellow student. Cyberbullying can include making negative comments about a student, posting harmful photos or videos, and threatening to harm a fellow student. This can be done using school apps and social media.

Cybercriminals have also used cyberbullying against students, which links cyberbullying and student cyber safety. They do things such as creating fake profiles and using them to make friends with students. When they’ve established trust with the student, they start to ask for personal information or explicit photos.

2. Fighting

Being in a physical fight at school isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, high school students reported fewer fights in 2019 than there were in 2009.

However, fighting in school is still happening. In 2019, a 10-year old female student was killed in a classroom fight, and sometimes even parents get involved.

Fighting in schools can be an indicator of bigger cultural problems in the school. It can also be a warning sign to other types of student safety issues going on including cyberbullying, drug activity, gang activity, and more.

3. Use of Weapons

The sad details of school shootings have been in the news for years. Research shows that in 2020, there were 84 times when gunfire rang out on school grounds. The result was 19 deaths and 40 injuries.

Not all gun violence involves mass shootings, but the devastation in terms of generating fear and an interruption in learning is very real.

4. Gang Violence

In 2019, approximately 9% of students in public schools said that gangs are a problem at their schools. Gangs are involved in human trafficking, guns, and drugs. They also destroy property, corrupt our youth and attack businesses.

In addition, gangs in schools aren’t always of the well-known variety. Federal law defines a gang as any group of five or more people who stay together on an ongoing basis and participate in violence against people or institutions. Under that definition, there are loosely organized gangs in schools that bring harm to students and school property.

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5. Sexual Violence

Sexual violence isn’t always a physical attack. In schools, there are many ways that students experience sexual violence, especially in our online environment. For example, students sometimes gain access to websites that display inappropriate content of a sexual nature. Sexting is another way that students are vulnerable when either another student or a cybercriminal blackmails a student with exposure of what they thought were private messages or images.

Unfortunately, K-12 schools experience a large number of incidents of rape or attempted rape and other types of sexual assaults. The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights conducts a survey every two years called the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). Data is collected from almost all public schools and school districts in the country. The latest report of survey findings is the 2017-18 version because the next survey will be conducted for the 2020-2021 school year due to the pandemic.

The 2017-18 CRDC produced the following data concerning sexual violence in schools.

  • 14,938 incidents of sexual violence, including rape or attempted rape, a 55% increased over the 2015-16 survey
  • 14,152 incidents of sexual assault other than rape, a 53% increase over the 2015-16 survey

According to the report, it’s important to note that:

“The data reflects the number of documented sexual violence allegations, not necessarily the number of confirmed incidents. The increase in reported allegations may reflect under-reporting in 2015-16, an increased sensitivity to this issue in 2017-18, or an actual increase in incidents of sexual violence from 2015-16 to 2017-18.”

Monitoring School Technology for Violence Signals

K-12 IT teams can help this issue by finding indicators of the different types of school violence that appear online. There are three things that an IT team can do to help students and school officials spot the different types of school violence.

1. Cloud Monitoring

Cloud monitoring is a critical tool for K-12 IT teams. Schools are providing students with learning and collaboration apps such as Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, shared drives, emails, and chat and video apps. As students have become comfortable using these applications for learning, they’re also using them to communicate with each other on a more personal level.

IT teams that monitor their cloud applications are finding many cases of students using Google Docs and Slides as ad-hoc chat rooms, for example. They may use the space to share sexually explicit photos, bully other students, or conduct other types of inappropriate behavior. These are spaces where teachers rarely catch wind of such activity going on in their classrooms.

Cyber safety solutions that monitor your schools’ cloud applications can help spot many student safety issues, including:

2. Browser and Search Monitoring

IT teams can use browser monitors to keep students safe. These monitors have different capabilities. For example, depending on the monitor you can accomplish the following types of things:

  • Teachers can see what tabs a student has open during remote learning and remotely close any unrelated tabs
  • Prevent students from bypassing content filters
  • Log account activity
  • Log application use
  • And more

3. Social Media and Forum Monitoring

Solutions are also available that monitor social media and forums for violence signals, and then send alerts to school officials. This type of monitoring could identify students who are in crisis before they do something violent.

For example, when a student shooter killed 17 people in a Florida high school, a social media monitor might have prompted school officials to stop him before that fateful day. Acquaintances said that the shooter’s social media posts progressively became more violent leading up to the shooting incident.

It’s obvious that these five types of school violence are making a big impact on students, parents, teachers, staff, and the community as a whole. The good news is that there are solutions available that can help fight school violence, and school IT teams are in a position to make a difference.

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