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Might Fight?


Examining this school year’s small spike in fights, admin response, and fights at PRHS more broadly

A seeming spike in student-on-student fights on campus defined the start of the 2022-2023 school year at PRHS, causing quick admin response and student discontent. But admin maintained this months that despite the quick succession of fights during the weeks of August 29 to September 16, no annual rise in student fights is expected as the year continues in spite of public perception. 

high school U.S. incidents in 2019-2020

Information from National Center for Educational Statistics

As students came back from the pandemic, increased student violence was predicted by many education and law enforcement specialists interviewed by US News, and PRHS students were reported to expect much of the same after the spike of fights in late August and Early September. 

“I thought they would just keep going,” said Gillian Ritchey, junior, “I wasn’t a fan. My friends and I would just stand there and wait for it to be over.” 

To staff, however, there’s a different story; these incidents typically taper out as culture settles in and targeted discipline sends a deterrent to potential aggressors. 

The weeks where the fights occurred were abnormally hot, with outside athletic practice canceled August 31 and much of the following week. Heat has been linked to both behavioral issues and lowered academic performance, as described by the UCLA Center for Healthy Climate Solutions.

Anthony Overton, Principal

Assistant principal Micheal Godsey pointed this connection out when explaining the fights and the spike in incidents: “Fights aren’t spread out throughout the school year perfectly (and) I don’t think the hot weather helped. That’s just natural for people.”

Principal Anthony Overton made sure to acknowledge the fights, but didn’t find the situation “terribly unusual.”

“They tend to come in little packets, once we have one or two it tends to spur on like four or five more,”  Overton said. “After two weeks though, they sort of calmed down. That could also just be because when those other fights happened, we cracked down and kids learned to play nice.” 

Micheal Godsey

The punishment for fighting is outlined in the Ed Codes 48900 and 48915, and is mostly dependent on the severity, what lead up to the altercation, and whether it was mutual or not.  Warranted vs. unwarranted is often a smaller factor because unless there was a physical build up, most policy in and out of school is that “violence is never the answer.”

Any altercation is a suspendable offense, one to five days, with five being the maximum for one incident. If someone is seriously injured, expulsion is a possibility and the police can get involved in school fights in the event of an assault charge.

Fights are taken very seriously at PRHS, being the main reason behind the ‘two lunch’ system, where the entire school is split into two lunches, A and B, that are excused at different times while the other half of the school attends their fourth period. 

Previous to distance learning, the singular lunch with the entire school seemed to facilitate higher rates of student fighting and an increased severity in these fights, with less adult supervisors per student and more students to get involved and further escalate the violence. The school saw “a lot of fights during lunch” according to Overton and more issues in general, not just altercations.

The recent fights almost all took place during nutrition instead of lunch, suggesting the reasoning behind the system is solid, as nutrition is the only full break wherein the entire school is in full population. 

With the fights now fully lulled, staff emphasized their biggest priority is fight prevention.   

“The biggest thing about these physical altercations is, nine times out of ten, it’s a result of something else- bullying, name calling, racism,” Overton said. “It bubbles to the point where someone kind of snaps, and it turns into a bad situation.”

He encouraged students to report issues especially if they’re small, allowing them to be solved while they’re still easily addressable. Students can use the anonymous tip line or tell a staff member if there’s a problem.

Similarly, Godsey understands the fascination towards watching fights, but more so encourages building a culture where everyone who comes to school can feel like it’s a safe, nonviolent place and to not amplify the negativity at school. 

“Some schools do a great job of amplifying and promoting, really communicating their school spirit and pride,” he said. “And other schools can post all the negative things that are happening. So we have the potential to do either.”  

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About the Contributor
Kalani Gaviola
Kalani Gaviola, Editor-in-Chief
Kalani Gaviola, senior, is one of the Editor-in-Chiefs of Crimson Newsmagazine, as well as co-InDepth Director. This is her second year as Editor-in-Chief and InDepth Director, and her third year in Crimson. Outside of Crimson, she is a varsity Cross Country and Track athlete, ASB Staff and Student Director, and an enjoyer of creative writing, reading, and drawing.
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