One Boston area student was suspended for bringing a knife to school. A week later, another was arrested for putting 10 classmates on a hit list. These episodes and others all occurred within five weeks last spring but in middle schools in suburban districts, where educators and law enforcement agencies are increasingly worried about violence penetrating places once considered havens, the Boston Globe reports. Massachusetts suburban and rural middle schools in 2005-06 had 4,750 reports of violence – such as fights, sexual assault, and robbery – and threats of violence. Educators, police, and school violence specialists struggle to explain rising violence among younger students, which is reflected in national statistics. They cite an array of causes, including violent video games, movies, and television shows and news coverage of violence at school and in the community, which results in copy-cat incidents.
Specialists say that today’s students rebel earlier than previous generations did; have easier access to violent images, writing, and attitudes on the Internet and in online chat rooms; and have even less parental supervision than in preceding generations. Between 2003-04 and 2005-06, violence or the threat of violence in suburban and rural middle schools grew 3.4 percent, despite a 3.9 percent decline in the overall middle school population. In response, district attorneys, police, and others have been pushing for more collaboration with educators and for more police officers to be assigned to suburban middle schools. District attorneys are also training teachers and students about bullying, Internet safety, and sexual harassment.