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Students vs. teachers: When some conflicts turn physical

On Nov. 15, 2019 at Largo High School, teacher Vivian Noirie was arrested for assaulting a student. A student in the classroom recorded the fight, a video that quickly went viral after it was posted on social media. Noirie was charged with physical child abuse and second degree assault. On Jan. 15, both of her charges were dropped. 

While physical altercations in school, whether between students and/or staff members, is unacceptable, the trend of students physically approaching teachers could be caused by a number of factors.

Lack of Respect for Teachers

This isn’t the first altercation that has happened with teachers and students. In California at Maywood Academy High School, former teacher Marston Riley was caught on camera punching a student that was saying negative things about him. The charges on Marston Riley were dropped, and he retired early from his job. 

There was a different outcome with Riley’s incident. Four days after the altercation, a resident at Maywood made a GoFundMe page to raise money for his bail, lawyers and fees. The recorded incident was allegedly not the first physical abuse that has happened to him.

“What happened to me is not uncommon,” Riley said in a video posted on the GoFundMe page. “Students verbally and physically abuse teachers everyday in this country. Students have to be taught by their parents and the school district to respect their teachers. Teachers have rights too, and they deserve respect. The verbal and physical abuse needs to stop.” 

These two teachers aren’t the the first that have gone through physical and verbal abuse by students. According to the Department of Education, 20 percent of teachers have been victims of verbal abuse and 10 percent were physically abused.

There are many different ways that teachers can calm down a student instead of getting physical with each other. One way is by listening to each other and then telling the student to calm down. 

“If it is normal talking back or talking over me, I can control the situation by talking back and asserting my position in the class or using small techniques to bring the class back together,” said Biology/Earth Science teacher Ms.Harris. She also said that if the situations escalated where she is physically abused, an administrator or security will be called. 

Aggression in students  

Students sometimes think that negative behavior is how to solve a problem. Children can get aggressive from many different reasons, from not only inside but outside the classroom. Another reason why students might act this way is to seek attention.  

A common disorder that has been seen in students is Disruptive Behavior Disorder. Studies have shown that conduct disorder affects 1-4 percent of adolescents in the United States. The most common symptoms are arguing with an adult and also having losing their temper. 

One of the risks that children might have is exposure to violence. There are also many different ways that students can control their temper. One of them can be for the student to just walk away from the situation.

For most students, who don’t suffer from Disruptive Behavior Disorders, but can, like most teens, find themselves getting angry, they remove themselves before things get worse.

“I can take deep breaths and think about what’s gonna happen if I do get aggressive” said junior Javon Hall.  

Recording the Situation 

Phones are the key to everything that happens all around us. For example, if you want to take a cool picture of an object you can just use your phone to take a picture of it. If you’re at a concert and want to remember it for another day you record the concert. There’s a positive and a negative with phones. 

When a fight breaks out in the middle of the hallway, students are quick to take out their phones and start recording. The positive of recording the fight is to have evidence of what happened. The negative is nobody is stopping the fight from it to escalate to something worse than it already is. 

When an emergency situation occurs, observers are more likely to take action if there are few or no other witnesses. A student might not want to step in to break up the fight because they might feel that the other students that are watching the fight can step in and break it up instead of them doing it themselves. While the recording of fights could themselves be reasons why fights keep going, recording could also prove beneficial.

Students who are bystanders in the class can remain calm by not instigating the conflict.” Ms. Harris said. “I am on the fence about whether or not students should record because oftentimes that is the only real evidence that can be used.”