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Disrespect, vandalism and more: US schools see rise in illicit student behavior since pandemic, data shows

STATEN ISLAND, NY – The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has set students back academically, but it has also negatively impacted their social-emotional and behavioral development over the past school year at schools in the United States, according to new data.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) – the statistical office of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) – found that 87% of public schools reported negative impact on development of their students during the 2021-2022 school year, and 83% of public schools agreed or strongly agreed that students’ behavioral development was also negatively affected.

“Students thrive in an environment that provides effective social, emotional, and behavioral support,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “So when we see 72% of our public schools reporting an increase in chronic absenteeism among our students, it provides an opportunity for education leaders to act quickly using proven approaches that work. It is our responsibility at NCES to disseminate data describing the severity of the situation.

Minor infractions, such as being late and disrupting class, are the most frequently cited illicit behaviors that have increased in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to NCES data.

Here are the student behaviors most frequently reported to have increased in the 2021-2022 school year (compared to a typical school year before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic) in part due to the health crisis and of its lingering effects:

  • Class disruptions due to student misconduct (56%)
  • Acts of disrespect towards teachers and staff (48%)
  • Rowdy outside the classroom (49%)
  • Prohibited use of electronic devices (42%)
  • Vandalism (24%)
  • Student delay (55%)
  • Bullying (30%)
  • Physical attacks or fights between students (33%)
  • Threats of physical attacks or fights between students (36%)

Seventy-nine percent of schools also reported needing more mental health support for students and/or staff, training on supporting students’ social-emotional development (70%), hiring more staff (60%) and training in classroom management strategies. (51%).

Threats to teachers and school staff have also increased due to the pandemic, schools said in the survey. This includes an increase in student verbal abuse of teachers (36%) and acts of student disrespect other than verbal abuse (48%).

Chronic student absenteeism has also been a problem – defined as those who miss at least 10% of the school year.

School leaders across the United States said chronic absenteeism has increased due to COVID-19 in all types of schools – elementary schools (75%), schools with higher student poverty rates weak (73%) and rural schools (71%).

National survey data analyzed school information collected in May 2022. Approximately 2,400 public elementary, middle, secondary, and combined schools were sampled for monthly data collection, and approximately 868 public schools responded to the survey. May survey, according to NCES.


Staten Island also saw an increase in interventions and arrests among students in the last quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019 — before the coronavirus affected students, the data shows.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) releases School Safety Reports under the Student Safety Act for each quarter of the year – showing incidents among students in which police action was required. Advance/ looked at data from October to December 2019, just before the pandemic, when students were on campus, and compared it to the same three-month period in 2021, when students were also on campus. full-time school.

According to the data, there were 514 mitigation interventions in Staten Island schools from October to December 2021, an increase of 29% from 399 during the same period in 2019. Mitigation interventions occur when a student has committed what would amount to an offense, but has been sent back to school for discipline/mitigation rather than being treated as an arrest or summons.

The Safe Schools Reports also include interventions for children in crisis, that is, students who show signs of emotional distress and need to be taken to hospital for psychological assessment. The number of interventions for a child in crisis actually decreased over that time, according to the data, from 72 in 2019 to 47 in 2021.

“I think the transition to school has generally been difficult for a lot of students, and then all the uncertainty with [school] closures and omicron. It’s just been difficult for a lot of the students we work with,” said Rohini Singh, school justice project attorney for Children’s Advocates New York.

Singh explained that there needs to be “real recognition” of the trauma students and staff have experienced during the pandemic.