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New Jersey Schools Confront Escalation in Violence, Bullying, and Substance Use: DOE Report

NJ School Violence, Bullying Up Over Pre-Pandemic, DOE Report Says

Recent data from the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) highlights a concerning surge in violence, bullying, weapons-related incidents, and substance use in the state's schools compared to the pre-pandemic years.


The report, covering the 2021-22 school year, underscores the need for increased attention to school safety, mental health, and preventative measures to address these alarming trends.


New Jersey Schools Confront Escalation in Violence, Bullying, and Substance Use: DOE Report
New Jersey Schools Confront Escalation in Violence, Bullying, and Substance Use: DOE Report

Key Findings From The Department Of Education of Escalation in Violence, Bullying, and Substance Use Report

Incident Increases:

The data reveals a notable increase in reports of violence (8.6%), drug use (6.5%), and bullying (6.8%) during the 2021-22 school year compared to the last pre-pandemic year. The most substantial rise was witnessed in weapons-related incidents, surging over 48% from 2018-19 to 2021-22.


Report Key Findings From The Department Of Education of Escalation in Violence, Bullying, and Substance Use
Report Key Findings From The Department Of Education of Escalation in Violence, Bullying, and Substance Use


Arrests and Police Reports:

A total of 8,170 incidents were reported to the police, resulting in 552 student school-related arrests. Weapons, including knives, air/BB guns, and handguns, were used 99 times during the school year.


Substance Use Reports:

Of the 6,639 substance reports, marijuana was found nearly 4,400 times, with drug paraphernalia found 1,215 times. Alcohol, designer/synthetic drugs, and heroin were also discovered during the school year.


Bullying and Harassment:

The report revealed 17,331 harassment, bullying, and intimidation investigations, resulting in 7,672 confirmed incidents. Over half occurred in middle schools, with verbal harassment, bullying, or intimidation being the most common form.


Hate-Related Incidents:

Racially-motivated (1,727 incidents), sexual orientation-motivated (1,052 incidents), and gender-motivated (1,261 incidents) harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) incidents were reported. The motives behind approximately half of the confirmed HIB incidents were labeled as "other" or "no identified nature."


Recommendations and Response:

The report underscores the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students' mental health and relationships. It emphasizes the need for social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools, citing research showing that SEL reduces conduct and substance issues. The DOE has been actively encouraging districts to prioritize social and emotional well-being throughout the pandemic.


The concerning rise in violence, bullying, and substance use in New Jersey schools demands immediate attention and action from educators, administrators, and policymakers.


What Can Parents Do

In light of the concerning trends revealed in the New Jersey Department of Education's recent report on school violence, bullying, and substance use, parents are encouraged to take an active role in their children's well-being. It is essential for parents to maintain open communication with their children, fostering an environment where kids feel comfortable sharing their experiences and concerns.

Staying informed about their child's school environment and any potential challenges they may be facing is crucial. Additionally, parents should actively engage in conversations about online safety, given the increased prevalence of cyberbullying. Encouraging a healthy balance between academics and extracurricular activities, along with monitoring social interactions, can contribute to a positive school experience.


Finally, being proactive in seeking professional support, such as counseling or Empowerment Training, if signs of distress or behavioral changes are observed, is paramount to addressing issues early on and ensuring the overall well-being of their children.


Strategies to enhance school safety, mental health support, and preventative measures, including robust SEL programs, are crucial to creating an environment where students can thrive and feel secure. As the DOE continues its efforts to address these issues, collaboration at various levels will be essential to safeguard the well-being of students across the state.


Violence Prevention and Self Defense Resources

The Center for Violence Prevention and Self Defense (CVPSD) is a non profit 501(C)(3) with a mission to stop violence by educating at-risk people and empower them with the skills needed to protect themselves by providing online and live training. 


Through workshops and seminars we educate participants about violence prevention and guide them on assessing risk factors while establishing boundaries in relationships. Additionally practical self defense classes equip people with hands on skills and effective strategies to prevent and intervene in cases of assault. CVPSD reaches individuals and communities through partnerships with schools and other nonprofits, community groups, as well as classes for the public.

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