Safety in Schools

Staff Writer shares their opinion on the constant increase of overall violence in public

Gun violence has been on the rise in America for years now and not just on the streets. Since the Columbine Shooting in 1999, America has seen a turning point in school violence. As of March 8th, 2023, there have been at least 30 incidents of gunfire, with 8 deaths and 23 injuries, on school grounds, according to After the recent shooting of a first grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, by one of her students here in Newport News, the issue of safety in schools has been brought up once again. More specifically, teacher’s safety in schools. As the daughter of an Elementary school teacher, this issue hits close to home for me. 


After the pandemic hit, we saw a rise in teachers quitting their jobs along with a rise of bad behavior in students. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least 300,000 public school teachers and other staff left between February 2020 and May 2022. Many cited their reasons as safety concerns, tense public scrutiny, and burnout. 


There’s also been more and more reports of students attacking teachers. A study in 2022 from the American Psychological Association Classroom Violence Directed Against Teachers Task Force found that 44% percent of teachers reported being physically attacked by students and 75% of them said they’d been verbally harassed by a student during the past year. Yet, many just blow it off as being “a part of the job”. 


After the Richneck Elementary school shooting, teachers expressed their frustration during a school board meeting. They believe that the shooting could have been prevented if the school administration took the teacher’s concerns seriously. The high school librarian, Nicole Cooke, stated, “Every day in one of our schools, teachers, students and other staff members are being hurt,” she goes on to say, “Every day, they’re hit. They’re bitten. They’re beaten. And they’re allowed to stay so that our numbers look good.” 


Later, it was revealed that the administrators had learned before the shooting occured that the child may have had a weapon. Zwerner’s attorney even stated that there had been multiple issues with that particular child that weren’t properly addressed, for example, the boy allegedly slammed her cellphone and broke it two days before the shooting. He was given a one day suspension. The document also alleged that he cursed at staff and teachers, chased other students and attempted to whip them with his belt, and choked a teacher until they couldn’t breathe. 


The school board fired superintendent George Parker III, the assistant principal of Richneck Elementary resigned, and metal detectors were put up in the school. Despite these measures would anything change? Teachers across the United States have expressed outrage at being ignored by the administration. Being in high school just last year, I watched teachers I admire growing frustrated and burnt out from the lack of disciplinary actions. Growing up, I was talked out of becoming a teacher by almost every teacher I knew. 


A lot of the issue resides with the administration and how they punish bad behavior. It was shown in the Richneck school board meetings that the faculty puts a lot of fault in the board and administration. Ignoring the problem resulted in a severe injury. There’s many different opinions on how to prevent this from happening again. More metal detectors, better security, more cameras, etc. These are all valid ideas, however taking teachers more seriously and attempting to stop the issue when the signs of a problem first occurs would significantly help.