RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Student misconduct, crime, and violence are all on the rise in North Carolina Schools.
New numbers released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction show 11,170 reportable crimes in schools across the state for the 2021-2022 school year.
That's nearly a 17% increase compared to the pre-pandemic school year.
"There has been an uptick,' said Rodney Obaigbena.
He's seen the change firsthand. He's a business teacher at Sanderson High School. He's been teaching for nine years and the last few have been some of the toughest.
"I've had some kids tell me just straight up, listen, the pandemic changed me. And when you ask what does that mean, the pandemic changed me? And some of them think that it took away their childhood, right, or it because there were things that they weren't aware of before,' explained Obaigbena.
According to the data from DPI, things are escalating.
- Possession of a controlled substance increased by 14 %
- Possession of firearms or powerful explosives increased by 30 %
- Possession of a weapon other than a firearm increased by 60 %
"That part as an educator gives you angst when you enter the building sometimes because sometimes you don't know what a kid has in their backpack. And I've seen a few students, threatening teachers, and administrators. There have been students that put their hands on teachers and administrators, and that is a difficult situation to navigate," continued Obaigbena.
Just this year more than a dozen guns have been found on school campuses across the state. Licensed Mental Health Therapist Casey Baine with Creative Therapies NC said the recent behavior of students is extreme but becoming too common.
"I hate to say that this is starting to become less surprising, and maybe an evolving new normal with the violence and the guns," said Baines.
She said these actions are not only impacting the misbehaving students but their classmates as well.
"It's leading to more mental health concerns among the students who aren't bringing them to schools and for students that are having to go through active shooter drills and stuff like that. The anxiety is, is through the roof right now among kids
Both Baine and Obaigbena hopes things change.
"Maybe I have rose-colored glasses, right? I'm still hopeful. And I think in time, we can start to see some changes and we are not so violent
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said this data shows the need for more effective measures to keep students and schools safe
Wake County Sheriff Willie Rowe says one measure is to hold both parents and students responsible for the violence and crime that takes place on school campuses.
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