HOUSTON — Parents with kids who attend Houston-area schools have continually expressed that safety is at the top of their minds.
KHOU 11 News asked them to fill out a survey about fights and acts of violence at their child’s school. Many of them said it's a problem that's getting worse.
The majority of the 428 parents who took the KHOU 11 School Safety Survey said they've seen videos of kids kicking, punching and hitting fellow classmates between classes. They said a lot of the fights are recorded and published on social media.
Sam Mayorga, Elizabeth Alanis and Steven Bergman took the survey and agreed to sit down with KHOU 11 to share their thoughts about school safety.
“There are some serious issues there,” Bergman said.
Nearly half of the people who took the KHOU 11 School Safety Survey said there are fights or acts of violence at their child’s school. Of those who said fights happen, more than a third said it happens daily or weekly.
“School safety is a big concern -- that my son can go to school every day, feel safe, be able to express his ideas and beliefs without fear of repercussion, that he can go and learn -- which is the whole purpose of public education,” Bergman said.
Some of the parents who took our survey said their kids told them about some scary situations.
- “I have heard about guns, knives ... kids getting stabbed with pencils.”
- “Kids bleeding after getting kicked or punched.”
- “He tells me he is scared and does not feel safe.”
Mayorga, who helped raise her younger sister, said fights happen outside after school behind buildings.
“They specifically choose certain spots to meet up because they know it’s going to take a long time for security, or administration, to come meet them. Kids are smart,” Mayorga said.
The parents said the fights are advertised on social media.
“Usually on Snapchat, because it just shows up for a little while, and then it disappears,” Mayorga said.
Elizabeth Alanis said she hears about them from her school-aged daughters and at work. She is a teacher.
“There was one time I remember students showed me something and I said, 'We’re going to go down to the AP’s (assistant principal) office right now,'" Alanis said. "It was a really isolated violent attack of a student in a hallway,”
Alanis said the school where she teaches has been put on lockdown because of a school fight.
“We’ve had situations where there have been fights on campus. We went into lockdown, and there were kids at my door talking to me," Alanis said. "So, I just pulled them into my room, and we shut the door and just waited, and I want to say it was until the end of the school day. It’s frightening as a teacher and as an adult. I’m glad I was able to at least allay the fears of the students that were in the room with me. But it does make me aware that it could happen at either campus of my own kids, and what do you do.”
“A lot of times these kids are acting out at school because there’s obviously something going on at home. They don’t know how to control that anger, Mayorga said. "So, then they get to school, and they have a situation where they are being picked on, and it just elevates the situation. It only takes one spark from them to go from zero to one hundred.”
KHOU 11 Investigates looked at Texas Education Agency data to find out how often fights happen in Greater Houston school districts. We learned there were more than 13,600 fights reported last school year, the most in at least five years. On average, that is about 11 fights for every 1,000 students.