CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Classes at Albany Central High School are going remote on Friday after a violent incident the district is calling an assault. It comes as school violence is on the rise across the Capital Region.
Some school leaders say they believe the increase, in part, was caused by the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on the mental health of young people. After a year of remote learning, back in person has brought weapons, fighting, and acting out in schools in the Capital Region.
“Because of the isolation and the disconnect of the pandemic, many of our students are feeling and experiencing hardships. These things are now magnified in how they come out in their verbal altercations or their physical altercations,” said Kaweeda Adams, Albany Central School District Superintendent.
For freshman Oluwasegun Tijani, he blows off steam hanging with friends and playing games at the Boys and Girls Club. But in the classroom and hallways at school, he is seeing differences amongst his peers.
“Instead of just talking about it, kids are hurting each other for it, and now some people in Albany High got stabbed,” said Tijani.
On Thursday, two people have been injured at the Albany High School. Two 14-year-olds, one with a weapon, got into a fight and a hall monitor was injured when they tried to intervene, according to Albany Police Public Information Officer Steve Smith. One of the teens and a hall monitor are being treated for minor cuts due to the fight.
The Superintendent said that they discovered that a student had a weapon during lunch. Police said they have recovered the weapon.
“Students are dealing with things the way they know best through social media. Then they’re getting the guns and the knives just resolving things in negative ways,” said David Gordon.
Superintendent Adams says peer pressure is taking a toll on students and mentors and role models need to step up.
“As the adults, we need to help educate students with appropriate ways to deal with conflict, and appropriate ways to resolve issues.”
Program Manager of Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area says parents in particular play a key role in their kid’s behavior.
“It starts at home, parents really need to have those conversations with our youth. It’s important to tell them about what to do and what not to do,” said Gordon.
Gordon says the Boys and Girls Club offers a way for kids to be kids. Mechanicville Principal Mike Mitchell says having fun and staying busy can keep students out of trouble.
“We are trying to provide opportunities to get back to normalcy with after-school clubs, and sporting events. It is important to try to keep our kids engaged with some positive things and positive role models,” said Mitchell.
Tijani says he is hoping he can be a good influence on his peers as well.