Working To Create A Safer Environment

By: Jessica Rivera

The safety of the students at school is something that is really important to the
community. Here at North High School, there has been an extremely large amount of fights
during the past few months. As school started up again, the multiple altercations between
students has begun to negatively affect the vast majority. Staff is not always going to be present
when a fight occurs, so I believe that there should be more money put into the safety of our
students. This week we were made aware by the school that there was a school threat circulating
around on social media. Every week- no, everyday students witness, talk, and hear about a new
fight that happened on school grounds. Because of this, the majority of the students at North
High School do not feel safe at school. Although the staff at school is working hard to protect the
students, the over-policing has caused us to become even more uncomfortable coming to school.
We understand that when they are making us turn in our phones before going to the bathroom,
having us sign in after going out to eat lunch, and expecting everyone to be out of the building by
4:00, they’re trying to reduce the amount of school violence. But to be honest, school is only
starting to feel more and more like a prison. This over-policing has made the tension between
staff and students even worse, and to be honest I don’t blame them.

As someone who is a part of the SBOE group at North, we were trying to find a way to
reduce the amount of violence at school. However, tackling this issue is not something that was
very easy for us. We didn’t know where to start. We had to be considerate of both the students’
and staff’s school-lives. But after a lot of planning and surveying, we believed that the topic was
something that was going to be hard to tackle. So we decided to put our energy into the power
dynamics at NHS. It’s not that we didn’t want to stop school-violence, we simply didn’t know
where to start.

I believe part of the issue as to why we weren’t able to tackle this problem properly is due
to the lack of school funding. With school funding, we could put more effort into researching the
lives of the students and staff at NHS in order to have a bigger idea about what causes
school-violence. My dream school is one where I feel safe going to. It’s one where I feel like I’m
not constantly being watched and controlled by the staff at North. I want the school to work for
and with the students, not one that makes them feel like they’re being imprisoned.
I have multiple friends that say they don’t feel safe at school, but to be honest this isn’t
really much of a surprise. If we had adequate funding, we could begin to focus more on the lives
of students outside of school. Although there are some mental health resources at school, I know
sometimes the services they offer may not work for everyone. Everyone is different, but if we
had the money to focus more on how we can support the students at North High School in order
to improve their response to violence, I believe the school would become safer. With school
funding we could offer our students mental health resources that work for them, after-school
clubs that provide them with a safe place to go to, and support systems that aren’t forced onto them. We need to stop focusing on how to control the students but rather focus on how to help
the students.

Many students at North (including myself) do not feel safe due to the amount of fights,
threats, and injustice. However I believe that if more money, resources, and energy were to be
put into helping our students, our school could potentially become a much safer place.

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