High School District Sees Slight Rise in Violence, Vandalism, Substance Abuse
There were ten more instances of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse in the second half of the 2011-2012 school year than the first half.
Phase II of the Freehold Regional High School District’s Violence, Vandalism, and Substance Abuse report was presented at a special Board of Education meeting on Monday night.
Originally, these reports were presented annually by the superintendent, but the state code changed last year requiring districts to present the report twice a year at different phases. Phase II covers the second half of the school year, from January - June of 2012.
There were 161 reported instances of violence, vandalism and substance abuse in Phase II, ten more than reported in Phase I.
Out of the 161 occurrences of violence, vandalism, and substance abuse, the following occurred at each school:
- Freehold Township High School - 36
- Howell High School - 35
- Manalapan High School - 29
- Freehold High School - 25
- Colts Neck High School - 22
- Marlboro High School - 14
The high school district saw 69 cases of violence in Phase II, which is a decrease from the first half of the year. New Jersey’s strict anti-bullying law, which went into effect in September of 2011, forced districts to follow particular processes of reporting incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB). However, not much guidance was provided to districts throughout the state in the first half of the year so the number of HIB incidents throughout the state were much higher in the first half of the school year than in the second half of the school year, after the state provided a clarifying memorandum specifying what constitutes a HIB.
Breakdown of Violence
- Simple Assault - 24
- Sex Offense - 3
- Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying - 4
- 1 at Colts Neck High School
- 1 at Freehold Township High School
- 2 at Howell High School
- Criminal Threat - 0
- Threat - 14
- Fight - 24
Sampson explained that the difference between a criminal threat and a threat is the severity of the threatening remark. A criminal threat is categorized as a threat on someone’s life, while a threat can be something like "I'll see you after school and beat you up."
There were two reported instances of assault with a weapon within the district. One assault involved a sharpened pencil which one student used to poke another student. The second assault involved a sharpened wood stick which one student used to poke another student with in Wood Shop class, Superintendent Charles Sampson explained.
There were also five reports of weapon possession, four of which were knives that were recovered from students during the second half of the school year.
The amount of vandalism in Phase II was extremely limited. There was only one report of property damage and four reports of theft. However, there were three bomb threats throughout the district in Phase II.
There were 80 reports of substance abuse within the FRHSD within Phase II. There were thirty reports of drug possession, 58 reports of students being under the influence, and two reports of drug distribution.
Sampson said that if a student is caught under the influence at school, that the student’s health and well being is the first priority and that, generally, there are a number of underlying issues that cause the student to be intoxicated at school. The district tries to discover those underlying issues and works on how to rectify them in the best interest of the student, Sampson asserted.
Types of Illegal Substances Used in Phase II:
- Marijuana - 51
- Unauthorized Prescription Drugs - 13
- Alcohol - 10
- Drug Paraphernalia - 6
- Narcotics − 5
- Amphetamines - 3
- Over the Counter Drugs - 3
- Cocaine - 2
- Depressants - 2
- Refused/Tainted Drug Test - 7
“Marijuana continues to be the number one drug of choice that students do make use of,” Sampson said, citing also that synthetic marijuana is on the rise.
Additionally, Sampson addressed the rumors of a heroin issue within the district saying that “that has not been substantiated by the numbers over the past few years at all and I'm not sure where the rumor originated."
The number of unauthorized prescription medication found at school were usually prescribed to someone within the student's family, Sampson explained. The students are taking the medication out of their parents, or other relatives', medicine cabinets and abusing them, Sampson warned.
Prevention and Intervention
“For Freehold Regional High School District the importance for us is really what sorts of programs and trainings are we conducting to mitigate that, and to make sure that we don’t have those issues,” Sampson said. “The bottom line is we have an inordinate number of programs in place to promote a positive school culture.”
Prevention and Intervention Programs in FRHSD:
- Student-Parent Handbook District Code of Conduct
- Support Services:
- grade level meetings/assemblies
- student clubs - SADD, Manytowers, Peer Leaders, etc.
- Health curriculum addresses dating violence, teen driver safety, drugs and alcohol and harassment
- state mandated programs - Week of Respect and Anti-Violence Week
- school assemblies, guest speakers, and programs on topics such as diversity, tolerance, substance abuse hib
- peer to peer training / conflict mediation
- community partnerships and alliances
- memorandum of agreement with local law enforcement
- student assistance counsel intervations
- intervention and referal services