SPECIAL REPORT: Crimes Students Face at School
TRI-CITIES, Wash.-- Threats, harassments, drugs, weapons, those are all situations our students encounter at school, some more often than not.
Action News dug deeper into crimes on campus and what your students face on a day-to-day basis when they leave for school.
For students in the Tri-Cities, it’s pretty safe to assume they’ll study math and science but they’ll also be faced with drugs, alcohol, and online threats.
“A student will say ‘I’m high right now,’ yeah students come into class, a lot, high off of marijuana,” said Olivia Miles, a sophomore at Kamiakin.
We dug deeper into exactly what the top crimes were that police responded to during the last academic school year.
For the high schools in all three districts, possession of a controlled substance fell in the top crimes, but so did assaults, and threats and harassment.
Traffic accidents or hit-and-runs were also a top crime police responded to because often students are just learning how to drive.
We wanted to know if this data was representative with what students typically see.
We asked if some of these crimes were surprising, “not at all, we see it everyday so its not that surprising. yeah, yesterday I was walking and someone was like ‘I’m high,' that was literally yesterday, it happens all the time,” said Aynie Berkowitz, a Sophomore at Kamiakin.
For officer Tony Valdez with the Kennewick Police Department, he was a school resource officer 10 years ago, and now he’s back in the classroom.
“Ten years ago we were dealing with gangs.... what we are seeing a lot more nowadays is the social media issues that we're having,” said Officer Valdez.
Threats and harassment don’t mean what they used to, fights in the classroom.
Now these safety concerns come from a person sitting behind a screen.
“I don’t take them seriously and I don’t associate myself with people who would hurt me,” said Miles.
That’s not all, explicit photos are being sent between students.
“Like on Snapchat and stuff,” said Berkowitz.
“Technology, it’s a great thing to have when it’s used for the right things, but when it’s not, that's when it becomes destructive,” said Sgt. Scott Warren, with the Pasco Police Department.
So where do students feel vulnerable when it comes to safety at schools?
“Our open-campuses are scary, they’re not monitored very well, they do have cameras but with the doors open all the time and access to outside, there’s been worries,” said Miles.
Each of the districts promote a safety plan, they do talk about what to do in the event of an active shooter, but they also work to give resources to students to prevent crimes before they happen.
Like having a trusted adult they can talk to if they need help.
When asked if they felt students had a voice, Berkowitz said, “Not really....I feel like whatever we say, people will say they’ll consider it but they really don’t.”
If it were a test, and the question was how to make schools safer, communication, may not be the right answer but it could be worth a little extra credit, "Be there for [your student] and always be someone that they can talk to," said Miles.
Students can also call, text, or email a tip to school officials.