New York City public schools are grappling with an increase in knife confiscations, according to recent data from the NYPD School Safety Division.
This school year, School Safety Agents have seized over 1,000 knives in schools, marking a 7% increase from the last year.
The alarming trend emerges amidst decreased weapons-detecting scanners and School Safety Agents present in schools, dropping from 93 scanners in 2018 to 79 scanners, as per the school safety report data.
Scanners have proven to be highly effective, detecting 56% of the weapons that were smuggled into schools this year.
As of Wednesday, December 6th, the tally of confiscated knives stood at 1,088, alongside 260 box cutters, surpassing the 1,256 weapons (1,004 knives and 252 boxcutters) seized in schools during the same timeframe last year.
The NYPD has not provided any information on the number of scanners in use, but Gregory Floyd, President of Teamsters Local 237, highlighted the stagnation in their numbers.
Concurrently, the roster of School Safety Agents has declined from 5,200 in 2020 to roughly 3,700 today.
A senior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn expressed concern and told the New York Post, “They don’t do enough to stop these things before they happen…I would agree with more frequent random scanning.”
Recent incidents, including three student stabbings at schools across the city in a single week, have heightened concerns about school safety measures.
On Tuesday, a 15-year-old boy was stabbed in the stomach at Edward R. Murrow High School.
On Wednesday, a 12-year-old girl was stabbed in the leg at JHS 123 James M. Kieran School in the Bronx, while a 15-year-old boy was slashed in the face at the AECI Charter School on Thursday, also in the Bronx.
NYPD data shows a consistent increase in knife incidents in schools. In the 2021-22 school year, 3,291 blades were seized, which rose by 9% to 3,588 in the 2022-23 school year.
Mona Davids, founder of the NYC School Safety Coalition, noted that the escalation in student weapon possession could be partly attributed to increasing fear among them.
Davids said, “Kids are bringing in more knives because they are afraid in school. It’s easier to have a knife than a gun.”
Union President Floyd warned that every school should be evaluated for scanners to prevent potential fatalities, especially in light of rising gang violence.
The debate over metal detectors in schools has been ongoing. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council, starting in 2015, advocated for removing these scanners, citing concerns over criminalizing students.
However, the stabbing death of a student, Matthew McCree, 15, in 2017 at a school without scanners reignited the debate, leading to increased security measures.
The NYPD maintains that schools with scanners are selected based on data analysis of recovered weapons, crimes, and overall violence.
Jenna Lyle, an NYC Public Schools spokesperson, emphasized the zero-tolerance policy for weapons in schools and the continuous collaboration with the NYPD to ensure safety.
Lyle stated, “Every NYC public school has, at a minimum, access to a full-time social worker, guidance counselor, or a school-based mental health clinic, and additional supports are being made to any student who needs it.”
According to NYPD data, while there has been an increase in the seizure of knives and box cutters, the confiscation of other contraband, such as Taser stun guns and BB guns, has decreased.
**Mona Davids is the founder of LittleAfrica News. Davids is a long-time community leader and parent advocate for families and children on education, school safety, and pubic safety issues.