Government need to act now to ensure violence in schools does not become the next care home crisis as a result of Coronavirus (Covid 19). If one child was to return to school after suffering the trauma of grief or as a victim of domestic violence or abuse without the necessary support in place, most professionals in teaching or childcare, would accept that there could be real issues with negative behavioural issues and increased aggression in that individual.
We are talking about millions of children returning to schools, who have been affected by lockdown and all the issues associated with that. Add to that, the likely disruption that may exist within many schools as a result of a variety of changes from the norm.
The changes may come in the form of rules and in how staff would normally engage with students and enforce any safety measures or learning, to the absence of familiar staff and the use of supply teachers, to issues with people being anxious and at times irrational about their personal space and possessions. Add to that, the psychological issues that could be prevalent with millions of children living in a constant state of fear and having to engage and relate to each other, under the threat that every other child around them, carries the threat of being a potential carrier of a killer virus. A virus that could be transmitted to their loved ones at home resulting in their deaths. Essentially every other child could be seen as an enemy and a physical threat and with children having to constantly deal with these perceived threats and the associated increasing levels of anxiety, the situation needs to be addressed and that has to happen now.
Another issue that needs to be considered is the idea of school bubbles, where children are confined to the same room or group, with access to perhaps one or two members of staff. What happens if a child is singled out to be the victim of a bully within their group and additionally if the only adult or adults the child is allowed to engage with, chooses to dismiss the situation as little concern, when that simply may not be the case. That child then has no option to be forced to be with their potential tormentor every second of the school day, with no respite and no way out and therefore left with the potential feelings of hopelessness that a situation like that might bring. All the issues described above could quite easily lead to serious incidents of harm, mental health issues and ultimately suicide in schools, directly as a consequence of increased pressures and levels of bullying and violence.
The flaws in the current Government bullying and violence complaints system that have already led to so much tragedy even before this crisis, are primed to exacerbate any problems that could result in deaths and it is absolutely imperative that these issues are addressed now and appropriate procedures and policies put in place to protect life. We can only continue to demand that the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and the Government, take onboard our warnings and concerns, and act on our requests to meet and look at the evidence and solutions, that will stop this from happening, before it’s too late.