East’s approach to solving conflicts


Courtesy of Unsplash. Taken by @Aedrian

In the past months our generation has witnessed much violence across the country, and some acts of horror were committed by people our age. Kyle Rittenhouse who shot protesters in Wisconsin was 17 and Ethan Crumbley who terrorized his fellow students in Michigan was 15. 

There have been many more conflicts involving young people in schools around the country. Glenbard East is facing the same problem.  According to Alexandria Taylor, the assistant principal of student services, there was one assault, three fights, and 6 verbal incidents just within the month of November. 

According to Ava Blalark, a social worker at East, one possible cause of these conflicts is that in post-online learning many students struggle with social and emotional conflict with others and it can turn to verbal and physical fighting.

“After 18 months and coming back, what I’ve noticed is that the transition back to school has been very difficult for a majority of our students, whether it manifested as anxiety, depression, or aggression,” said Blalark. 

These fights do not just harm the students involved, but the whole building since they lead to distraction, rumors, and fear. When witnessing a fight some students’ heads are filled with questions that remain unanswered. 

“If they tell us that they dealt with it I would be comfortable. But a fight happens and poof it’s gone. Nothing after that,” said Hannah Linley, a sophomore. 

But sophomore Maria Gronwold disagrees, saying that informing students about fights just adds to the unwanted distraction. 

“Drawing more attention to fights is not the right way to go about it. I think they should handle it privately with the students,” said Gronwold. 

However, the lack of communication between students and the administration has resulted in many rumors on what really happens in those situations. 

“I think they should not say names because that is personal business, but we would like to know what’s going on so that there are no rumors spread. The problem with rumors is that they are inferences and can spiral out of control,” said Linley. 

Although rumors have been spread about the number of physical altercations, most of the incidents have not resulted in a fight. The administration has prevented them from turning physical, according to Taylor.

“Out of the incidents that we had, only a small number resulted in a physical fight,” said Taylor. “Most of them were just verbal altercations where a student attempted to fight another student but administration successfully prevented that from happening.” 

After the faculty ends the fight, they separate the students, and try to figure out what happened. 

“The dean’s primary job at that point is to make sure that the surrounding students at large are safe, and that the students involved are separated. They are always brought back to one of our offices for processing,” said Taylor. “Sometimes it’s the dean’s office, sometimes the social workers office, sometimes the guidance office but we want to make sure that they are separated and given time to de-escalate.” 

According to Blalark, the students involved experience a lot of emotion, and social workers try to help them cool off. 

To prevent altercations from starting the school encourages students to be kind, respectful, and collaborative, said Taylor.The goal of Mindfulness Mondays which is five minutes during second period is to teach kids to be mindful and aware of their surroundings. One-on-one counseling is provided to ensure that the problems of students are paid attention to. 

The school prides itself on handling aggressive situations alone when they can. Involving police can lead to a permanent mark, and the administration recognizes that students make mistakes and they should be able to correct it, according to Taylor. 

“The administration prides ourself on the fact that we like to handle things at the school level because once we turn things over to SRO it becomes a legal police matter,” she said. “We like to make sure that we are handling it because students make mistakes and engage in inappropriate conduct and want to teach them that it is a mistake and how they can correct it. If we can’t control the student and they are not following directions and highly disrupting the school environment then we would ask a school resource officer to handle the situation by police matters.”

But students involved in fights do not only face consequences with the administration but also on social media. For some students, the first reaction is to pull out their devices to film. Said Blalark. These videos are passed around Instagram and Snapchat and are permanently there. This can harm a students self esteem since their worst behavior is displayed all over social media. 

“In this age of social media it has become an instinct to record when you see something. Some kids think that it is fun. But it can have detrimental effects for the students caught on camera. What’s on the internet is forever,” she said. “So to see people ridiculing you can affect your self esteem and confidence. It is very sad to me and I have had to tell my students that you don’t want to be someone’s entertainment.”