School Violence: The Motive



Emyli Thompson, Opinion writer

School Violence is a common occurrence in public schools, especially school fights. However, what started the surge of violence from within students for them to act out against each other? On August 20th, right before school started, a dispute broke out between a couple of sophomore and freshman girls, and I will not disclose the names of them. One of the sophomores and freshman had been agitated from rumors being spread by a fellow girl. Let’s call the freshman Student A, her sophomore friend Student B and the provoking student, Student C. Students A & B have been fighting off rumors, arising from Student C. Student B lashed out at the other two students, which fortunately brought the attention of a counselor walking by before the heat of the situation rose. This had me pondering about what started violence in schools. What is the motive of these actions? Why take the situation down this route?

In order to really understand the overall motive, I researched a bit about the history of school violence in the US. From 1927 to the present day, there have been about 70 shootings (60 of which acted out by students) making 85.8% of all major crimes in school pursued by students. The earliest act of school violence I could find, that of which acted out by a student, was on October 5th, 1966. A 15 year old boy shot another student and a director of secondary education, “Forrest Wylie”. The shooter immediately fled the scene afterwards. The police had found him, then the student shot at them until he ran out of ammo. Although the reason for why the student did this was unknown, I do believe it kick started school shootings. In another 8 years, there was another school crime. On December 30th, 1974, a 15 year old honors student killed the Olean High School janitor and two passing citizens in Olean, New York. The student then commits suicide while awaiting the trial. From 1927 to the present day, there were a lot of major shootings and crimes such as: the Columbine Shooting in Colorado (April 20th, 1999) and the recent Stoneman Douglas shooting in Florida (February 14th, 2018), etc.

Now, down to the more common found of violence. You watch them every month, and share them on Snapchat and Instagram while eating your Takis at Walgreens. That’s right, I’m talking about school fights. In 2017, about 24% of students from grades 9-12 have reported being in a physical fight. This is a decrease from 43% in 1991, according to Child Trends. Out of all those fights: 28% are 9th graders, 26% are 10th graders, 20% are 11th graders and 18% are 12th graders. I have read a few articles, and quite a few mention a lot of mental disorders, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder, but they don’t really arrive to the root of the problem such as abuse and harassment. Earlier this year during school in February, there was another school fight between two girls. One of them acquired 3 days of suspension from school and community service, the other didn’t get reprimanded. These girls used to be best friends about a year before this incident, but because they didn’t see eye-to-eye on some touchy subjects, they eventually drifted apart. Afterwards, one of the girls started harassing the other for multiple things. I’m not quite sure why exactly. Jealousy? Anger? Melancholy? No clue. I do know that she had been going on and off with this for about a year. The girl who she harassed reported it, but there was no action made on the school’s part, so she took matters into her own hands and got punished for it. I can’t necessarily call it childish because I have committed the same. However, I do think that it was unjust because according to Deer Valley school rules, “no matter who throws the first punch, BOTH STUDENTS should be punished.” Everyone is aware of this, however, this was not the case.


So in conclusion, I believe there are multiple reasons and motives why people succumb to school violence as a “refuge”. Whether it’s mental health, harassment, or even if they are just psychopaths. My advice to the school and the students is just be aware of your surroundings and just try to see the bigger picture of it all. It doesn’t matter who the parents are, or if you like one of them better than the other. Be just and fair about it.


In the meantime, I’m currently working on a project with MAD to help with overall mental health and ways to deal with hardships, such as: harassment, rape, and abuse. If you would like to help out or have some suggestions, please email me at [email protected]


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