NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Thirty-six Metro Schools students lost their lives during the 2016-17 school year, the highest in at least a decade.
“It is concerning that our young people are resorting to violence to resolve problems,” Dr. Tony Majors, Executive Officer of Student Services for Metro said.
In the seven years since he’s been in his position, Majors has seen teen violence increase.
“We are seeing an increase in certain violent behaviors that are concerning, and that would include everything from fighting to students involved in criminal behavior in and outside of school,” he explained to News 2.
Just last week, a 16-year-old Glencliff High School student died after police said he was shot in the head by another teenage student.
And on Tuesday night, 15-year-old Thomas Howard, a Maplewood High student, died after being shot by another teen.
“I don’t want to believe that we are at the point where a child has conflict and immediately chooses to access a gun, but if that’s the case, then the question would be how are we addressing the accessibility of illegal weapons in our community as well. That’s not a schools systems conversation, but it is a conversation that the school system should definitely be involved in because we are seeing some of the impacts,” Majors said.
The Metro Schools official told News 2 that any time a student loses their life, the school implements their student death protocol, which includes mobilizing counseling staff, social workers, and psychologists to work with school administration and develop a plan that addresses faculty, students, and parents.
“It’s a very structured, very effective response protocol so that we are meeting the needs of children,” he explained.
However, it’s a protocol Majors said they have to use too often.
“Last year, we had 36 students lose their life in the school system. That’s the highest in 10 or 15 years. This year, we are at 16, so the frequency of us having to use the student death protocol has increased, and that is very concerning,” Majors said.
As more young lives are lost and teen crime rises, Dr. Majors said the conversation in the district is changing.
“I really do think we’ve reached a point in the city of Nashville where we have to really ask a tough question, and that tough question really centers around what type of life experience do we want for our children and what is it going to take to get our students involved in very positive proactive activities,” said Majors.
He said Metro Schools work closely with law enforcement, the mayor’s office, and community centers to look at both disciplinary practices and the impact of violence.