Local experts weigh in on uptick in violent behavior amongst students in Michiana

NOW: Local experts weigh in on uptick in violent behavior amongst students in Michiana

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- After a big uptick in bullying, violence, and threats inside many Michiana schools recently a couple of experts weighed in on the troubling trend.

For many parents over the past year the focus was just getting their kids back in the classroom after a year of online learning, but experts say what they didn’t prepare for was the behavioral changes many students are experiencing.

“We’ve been locked down for so long and a lot of kids haven’t had a lot of social face to face experiences and they’ve been instead immersed in perhaps media and social media," said Darcia Narvaez, Professor of Psychology, University of Notre Dame.

While returning to in person learning this year might have seemed like the normal thing to do after a year stuck at home many students are saying the adjustment is not as easy as expected.

According to Narvaez, the pandemic created an environment through our culture to heavily rely on social media instead of normal interactions and it’s causing an uptick in emotional damage amongst children of all ages.

Another expert – agrees.

“From anonymity to the negative aspects of miscommunication, social media is right for these and things can get really ramped up and you see that in the adult world," said Jon Petersen, Psychologist at Family Psychology of South Bend.

Petersen says social media has become the biggest culprit for some of the negative behavior we’re seeing take place in kids because they’re turning to it as much as adults do.

The over exposure to violent videos or trends seen online has caused a culture shock many parents and schools are struggling to handle.

It’s something Narvaez says needs to be addressed by limiting screen time in and out of the classroom.

“Growing gardens together. Helping each other with whatever we need so that our basic needs are met so we feel calm because our needs are met rather than feeling like we’re in need of something so we go to the phone or we go to television or something," said Narvaez.

While it’s a large effort from parents Petersen says schools have just as big of a responsibility in tackling these negative behaviors.

“So this is no short term fix, but long term for schools to be enhancing sense of community giving, allowing, and facilitating each student to have a pro-social voice," said Petersen.

Over the past week we’ve seen two separate incidents at Clay High School which school officials say were not related to each other. There have also been several threats at different schools across Michiana – over the last few days.

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