Golisano pediatric psychologist explains why students are fighting in schools across CNY
Desks in school classroom (photo: CNY Central).

Multiple fights from Oswego to North Syracuse to Syracuse have broken out in schools the past few weeks, less than a month into the new school year. 

Henninger High School has had fights breaking out, fire alarms being pulled and even a report of a potential gun on school grounds all in the past week.

RELATED| Henninger parents, students frustrated after fires, fights break out

In Oswego, there was a fight at the high school football game two weeks ago where a 17-year-old was arrested and now a fight in North Syracuse Junior High.

Police say the fight involved two girls Wednesday.

The district announced Thursday that they are adding more school resources officers in buildings and additional administrative personnel throughout the buildings for support after "multiple instances of disruptive student behavior."

MORE: North Syracuse Central School District assures parents recent incidents will be addressed

"It is our responsibility as a District and community to ensure that our students receive the best education possible. Part of being able to provide the best education requires that our students and staff feel safe and respected in our buildings. The behaviors that are taking place by a few students are creating an atmosphere where all students and staff do not feel safe," Superintendent Dan Bowles said in a statement to the district.

Golisano Children's Hospital Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Anne Reagan weighs in on why this may be happening. 

She said one reason that could be causing students to escalate to violence stems from stress and anxiety some students have with being back in school with masks and COVID-19 guidelines

"There's still a lot of stressors related to Covid," Dr. Reagan said. "The kids are returning to environments that are different than what they last encountered."

She also said stress at home due to financial struggles or unemployment could be a contributing factor. Students are also back with others that they may not have seen in a while. She says, if the kids have seen anyone throughout the pandemic, it's who they've chosen to meet with. Now, they're back with those they wouldn't actively reach out to.

"Kids were not used to being in these large groups for 18 months and so there's some sensory overload and dysregulation," she said.

Dr. Reagan said kids lost social skills over the past year and a half and being put into situations they aren't familiar with can cause them to act out. 

"We're talking about building skills of tolerance, emotional tolerance, stress tolerance, distress tolerance and all of that was just put on hold for a year," she said.

The pandemic has also directed many people to social media platforms and that can also impact how kids develop their social skills. The doctor says it takes away face-to-face contact and healthy in-person conversations.

She said situations like these can be prevented by self-check and communication when the student needs a break.

Doctor Reagan also said what happens with the parents has an impact on the kids. Videos showing parents arguing over mask mandates at school board meetings tell the students that type of behavior is okay and tolerated, she said.

"They're hearing political conversations and parents taking very firm stances and they are thinking that that’s acceptable to do and not tolerating other people's opinions and not tolerating other people’s differences," she said.

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