School Fighting Increases, Leaders Respond


Avery Stephens and D'Cameron Miller

North Little Rock High School has seen an exponential increase in the amount of physical altercations this school year. This is an issue in that it disrupts the learning environment and could result in serious injury. This leads us to the question, why this year? What is the added factor that is generating this increase in fights? We interviewed both students and faculty at both North Little Rock High School and North Little Rock Middle School to try and find the source of this issue. 

First, we interviewed Dr. Nadia Saint-Louis, the principal of NLRHS. This is Dr. Saint Louis’ first year at this school, so we asked her about her initial thoughts: 

D’Cameron Miller, Reporter: “Have you noticed an increase in fights this school year?”

Dr. Saint- Louis: “Yes… definitely, because last school year there were several students who were virtual… but looking at the data all the way back to 2018, there have been many more fights at the beginning of this school year than there have been in previous years.” 

D’Cameron: “Do you think there is a way we can resolve this problem? How?”

Dr. Saint- Louis: “Absolutely. One, students need to be aware of their behavior and conflict resolution. Also, the teachers and community [need to] understand that students are still under a lot of duress and stress from the pandemic that has caused a lot of issues around the country, not just in high schools.” 

D’Cameron: “Is there a certain age group that you see initiating the fights more than others- freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors?” 

Dr. Saint- Louis: “Our ninth graders have had a harder time transitioning back to school because, if you think about it… the last time some of them were really in a school building was in the seventh grade… they didn’t get that transition time that a lot of our ninth graders need, like orientation and bridge program…”

D’Cameron: “What sort of discipline program is in place for students that have participated in physical altercations?”

Dr. Saint- Louis: “It depends… We definitely follow the North Little Rock School District student handbook. There is a rubric in there for discipline. If it is a group fight, those students are typically suspended with recommendation for expulsion. If it is a fight that is just one-on-one, those students typically are suspended. We also require students, when they are in an altercation, to come back to school with a re-entry meeting, so we can figure out a good plan for them coming back to school…”

We also interviewed Mr. Reginald Redus, a campus supervisor at NLRHS for the past 5 years, to gain his insight:

D’Cameron: “Have you seen an increase in fighting this year?”

Mr. Redus: “This year…it’s just crazy to think that we’ve had over… forty something fights already. We’re only two months in.”

D’Cameron: “What’s the solution?” 

Mr. Redus: “That’s a collective thing. The parents, the students, the staff- we all need to get together and sit down…hash this out and get an understanding on where we are now and where we need to be. We don’t talk… this is where the problem lies because we are not communicating.” 

Mr. Redus voices his worry on how social media plays a role in the increase in physical altercations by asserting that “Phones are a good thing, and phones are a bad thing… they cause a lot of fights right there.” 

According to some research, COVID-19 and the increased use of social media are directly related. This is the area in which we have asked ourselves, “To what extent has the pandemic and virtual schooling played a role in the increase in fighting?” The isolation and lack of collaboration could be a factor in students’ aggression. We interviewed junior Evelyn Moran who was a virtual student last year to see how it affected her. 

Avery Stephens, Reporter: “Do you think that virtual schooling affected your emotional processing skills/social skills in any way?”

Evelyn Moran: “Yes, I do feel that virtual schooling affected my social skills, and in a negative way. Being away from people made interactions with others harder than it was before, when I was already a little adverse to it. As for emotional processing skills, I feel that all of that time alone helped me sort through emotions better and also identify them…

Avery: “Since the pandemic, do you find yourself using social media to communicate more often than not?” 

Moran: “I actually do find myself using social media to communicate with others more, and it became a habit, since making friends and reaching out to others through social media or through online measures was easier than [it was] pre-covid.”

Avery: “Do you regret doing virtual learning last year?”

Moran: “In terms of being safer from getting covid, no, I don’t regret it. However, in terms of socializing and missing out on events you can only experience while being in person, then yes, I do regret it. It really just feels like I missed an entire year of school, because the learning process wasn’t great either. I don’t think I would ever do virtual again unless there was an actual need for it.”

It is extremely difficult to generalize the source of physical altercations, especially within a high school environment. Many factors can generate aggression, and we have had quite the abnormal past two years with the introduction of COVID-19. However, there is only so much you can excuse in regards to fighting on school grounds, which is why it is important that this problem is addressed. According to THV11, NLRSD Superintendent Dr. Gregory J. Pilewski has illustrated a solution. The district is looking to create adult-youth mentoring programs to support students.