(NewsNation) — With summer break over, the break from last year’s campus violence also comes to an end.
Across the country, many teachers have already begun to deal with incidents of violence as some predict things will only keep escalating without a major social shift.
“I’m exhausted and we’re only three weeks into the school year and I’m already burnt out,” said Las Vegas teacher Kristan Nigro.
The kindergarten teacher told NewsNation that her first-day excitement is long gone after an incident last year.
“I had a child who went to my desk and grabbed the adult scissors and opened them and threw them at my face. Thank God I was able to get out of the way and not actually let those collide with my face,“ Nigro said.
On Friday, four people were shot in Oklahoma during a high school football game after a fight broke out among spectators.
Gunfire also broke out during lunch at a high school in Augusta, Georgia, when a fight between two students escalated into shots that left one of them wounded in the finger.
“I just went to get some ketchup and stuff for my burger and all of a sudden, I heard shots,” said Stanly Umana, a student at the school.
Last year, teachers faced a number of violent attacks. Now, many fear for their safety.
“Educators have shared everything from being kicked and hit, and I even had one educator show me bite marks,” said Marie Neisess, president of Clark Co. Education Association.
While there is a heightened awareness of the mental health of children and effective responses, experts say a lingering problem remains. Namely, technology and video games, which have greatly curtailed human interaction, experts say.
“We don’t have as much of that ability anymore, so we see a lack of problem-solving and conflict resolution amongst kids,” said pediatric psychologist Dr. Anne Reagan at the SUNY Upstate Medical Center.
Reagan believes it will take years to unravel behavioral issues that were worsening even before the pandemic, and parental behavior has not helped.
“So much is just online, and parents and kids are always on their screens, even if they’re sitting on the same couch, they’re not talking to each other. So we definitely are trying to educate caregivers to get back to communicating directly with their children,” Reagan said.
Research shows just five to 10 minutes of one-on-one attention between caregiver and child can lead to vast improvements in school performance and a reduction in anxiety and depression.
“It’s really important for everybody across the nation to really understand that if this is a problem that doesn’t get fixed quickly, I think we’re going to see a mass exodus of teachers, I mean more than we have already seen,” said Nigro.
This school year started with approximately 37,000 teacher vacancies across the country, according to Education Week. About a dozen states have lowered credential standards in order to fill more vacancies.
Meanwhile, a recent survey found that 1 in 3 educators plan to quit to enter different professions within the next two years.