CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New data shows a troubling spike in violence and crime throughout high schools in North Carolina. 

According to the latest report released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, there has been a 23.5% spike in crime and violence within North Carolina High Schools — compared to the previous year. 

These numbers are raising concerns among education officials, parents, and lawmakers.

The consolidated data report from the DPI says over the last year, North Carolina schools reported more than 11,000 acts of crime and violence. Possession of controlled substances was the highest reported crime, and closely following that was possession of a weapon, followed by assaulting staff. Brooke Weiss, with Moms for Liberty, has a daughter at a CMS high school and is very concerned after hearing about the latest report. 

“I think they need to get a grip on behavior. I think teachers are spending more time managing behavior, and it’s affecting their ability to teach,” Weiss said.

A North Carolina representative is pushing a bill that would implement more in-school suspension instead of out-of-school suspension for student offenders.

Cause for concern

But what’s causing such a large spike in violence and crime in high schools?

Daniel Miles, a licensed clinical mental health counselor, thinks the pandemic plays a huge role.

“Whatever’s going on as far as how stressed teachers are feeling, how stressed parents are feeling, kids are feeling that and don’t know how to put words to that. And so that could lead to a lot of acting out in a classroom setting. And again, a classroom setting that may not have the resources to manage and support kids like we need,” Miles said.

North Carolina Representative Jeff McNeely, who represents Iredell County, thinks the crime in violence is also due to a lack of discipline and structure for kids at home. 

“One of the worst things you can do is not discipline your children. It’s gonna be horrible consequences for them, and horrible consequences for society,” McNeely said.

A new bill in the North Carolina House, HB 188, would require discipline policies to address support of students on suspension. It also encourages school officials to consider in-school suspension over out-of-school suspension. McNeely supports the bill and thinks it would help manage crime and violence in schools. 

“Schools mirror society. And we’re seeing the same thing in our society with all the different stuff going on,” McNeely said.

The United States’ school crime rate spiked by 28% from 2019 to 2020.

CMS released the following statement in response to the crime and violence: “The crime data released for the 2021-2022 school year reflects certain increases statewide as schools resumed in-person education following a challenging year of remote learning. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is dedicated to maintaining a safe and secure environment for our students and staff, and we work daily to evaluate, modify and bolster our efforts to reduce crime. We examine every data point and review what steps are needed to reduce crime in our schools. We are pleased with the progress that we have made, but we still have work to do with our staff, students, and community to make schools as safe as possible for everyone.”