INDIANAPOLIS — Mental health professionals and school district leaders are reporting a troubling trend in the classrooms. They say they have noticed an increase in violence and aggression among students.
On September 8, a student at North Central High School stabbed a classmate, critically injuring him. That recent incident is the most serious, but it is just one of several acts of violence at schools across the Indianapolis area.
"I have seen some increased aggression and it has been significant,” Donald Kite, President of the Washington Township School Board said.
Kite has grandchildren in the district and added that the violence being seen in schools right now is unacceptable.
“I want school to be safe. It should be a place where kids can go and they can learn and whatever their challenges, there are people that love and care about them and want to try to do everything that they can to help them,” Kite said. “That is one of the reasons why we simply cannot accept violence."
But the violence is being seen more frequently. The district superintendent released a video after the stabbing incident at North Central addressing the increase.
“The fact is, since we started school we've seen an increase in physical aggression by our students,” Dr. Nikki Woodson, Superintendent of Washington Township Schools said.
And the issue is not isolated to any one area.
“I can guarantee you that any mental health professional you talk to, whether it's here locally, in Indianapolis, or around the state or the nation, are busier than they've ever been in their entire career," Kimble Richardson, a Licensed Clinical Therapist with Community Health Network explained.
Richardson said they are primarily seeing an increase in anxiety and depression, but aggression and violence among young adults is also on the rise.
He said the cause is hard to pinpoint, but there is something all parents should be doing at home.
“Not all families talk openly about feelings or emotions in the house and I think that is so important that you give a voice, put a name to it, and then you say it's OK to have these feelings. It is not OK to act certain ways about it, and make sure you explain the difference and be a good role model," Richardson said.
Meanwhile, district leaders are working closely with school police and resource officers where they are focusing on both prevention and support.