PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Videos on social media of some brutal fights at the new Wilkes-Barre Area High School are sparking concern among parents.
Tuesday, one student was taken out in an ambulance. What seems to be the problem here? Eyewitness News spoke with some students and one of the principals as school was letting out Wednesday.
There are a few things at play here:
- The impact of isolation due to the pandemic on students’ behavior
- Social media
- Fights might not be necessarily happening more often now, they’re just all happening in the same building. Whereas before they were spread between three different high schools.
“My wife and I are definitely…we’re afraid for our son as well as other students,” one concerned parent told Eyewitness News over the phone.
The man on the phone said his son received multiple videos on Snapchat of fights inside the new Wilkes-Barre Area High School. He asked to remain anonymous to protect his son. These videos are all over social media and he’s not the only parent who’s alarmed.
“There’s a lot of parents posting on Facebook about the violence, the fights, the lack of supervision,” the parent on the phone said.
Administrators confirmed one student was taken to the hospital Tuesday after another student attacked her in the hallway.
“We spoke to the parent and that student is doing well today. The other — the student that did this is being disciplined to the max that we can do,” 10th-grade principal Patrick Peters said.
Peters says there’s been about 10 fights since the brand new high school opened in September. Around 3,000 students now attend Wilkes-Barre Area. They were previously divided between three different high schools and so were the fights according to Peters.
He says statistics show the number of fights are actually down. However, social media isn’t helping, and neither did the pandemic.
“Their social skills are lacking. They haven’t been with one another to discuss situations or how to approach one another. They’re going right to their phones and putting stuff out there, they’re putting it on video so that’s one of the main issues we’re trying to deal with right now,” Peters said.
Peters says the fights are happening among the lower classmen. He says these 9th graders were 7th graders the last time they were in school.
“So again, they’re kind of behind socially, and their maturity. So that’s playing a part of it,” peters said.
“I just feel like there’s a lot of hostility and people are trying to establish dominance,” senior Anthony Nguyen said.
Eyewitness News talked to some upperclassmen who say they’re trying to set a good example for the younger students. Kaleb Spade says he recently broke up a fight, something he encourages other kids to do instead of pulling out their phones.
“I don’t think recording it should be an option. Like my friend said at first, social media is a big part of this…A lot of people just don’t agree with each other and that’s where everything starts because they don’t really agree and we as a new school, we’ve got to get along,” Spade said.
“I think recording fights…It’s like if I see a fight I’m going to try to break it up. I’m not going to try to record it or escalate it or anything because I don’t like seeing fights, I don’t like seeing people get hurt. At the end of the day, we’re all one. We all go to the same school, everybody goes through the same struggles just in a different way. If we just talk to one another I think everything could be resolved,” senior Rubens Glaude said.
Spade and his friends say the school does a pretty good job keeping them safe. They have cameras everywhere, a security team, metal detectors when they walk in the door and they search every student’s backpack when they walk in.
They say it’s up to the students to prevent fights before they start.