Schools in Duval County Have Become a Battle Zone for the Students
It turns out that Duval County public schools are the most dangerous in Florida in terms of criminal activity – arsons, assaults, possession of weapons and sexual violence. In the years 2014 – 2015, 11,537 criminal and violent incidents were recorded in the county’s schools. On the second place are the schools in Miami-Dade County, which suffered from close to 8,900 incidents.
One of the major problems Duval County’s schools are facing is bullying with more than 6,000 physical attacks in 2014-2015. In some school, such as Northwestern Middle located in ZIP code 32209, there are on average 3 fighting incidents a week.
Schools’ lenient approach
School authorities are reluctant to report about the violent incidents to law enforcement agencies. Principals do not want to ruin the reputation of the institution under their responsibility. Some are also afraid of ruining the future of their students. A criminal record at such a young age is definitely not a good way to start adult life.
Yet this lenient approach usually backfires. Problematic students are not deterred from using violence. Lack of strict disciplinary measures, one teacher claimed, makes children use violence automatically without even thinking there might be an alternative.
As a result, school personnel has no choice but to resort to extreme measures. One teacher equipped herself with a stun gun for self-protection. She was fired.
The County’s response
It seems that Duval County’s officials prefer to underestimate the severity of the problem. One of the superintendents even claimed that in his opinion the 198 schools in Duval County were relatively safe! in fact, he added that schools in Jacksonville were not more dangerous than other schools in the state; they just reported true numbers in contrast to others. To prove this point, he said that Broward County, for example, reported zero physical attacks in 2014-2015. That didn’t make any sense.
Who is to be blamed?
Many educational experts think that strict disciplinary measures, including police involvement and arrests, will do little to solve the problem. Most violent students are victims of physical and emotional maltreatment at home and they bring with them to school much frustration and aggression.
Parents must assume responsibility for their kids. They cannot expect schools to do it for them. The county officials should also remember that the problem does not start at school. The solution lies in assisting families in poor areas before the school day starts.