NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Since the start of the school year, the North Little Rock School District says it has seen an increase in kids acting up. The district says the pandemic isn’t an excuse but could be a reason for the increase in disciplinary problems.

“Most of what we’re seeing is an increase in bullying and harassment, language and profanity and certainly fighting,” said Dr. Gregory J. Pilewski, superintendent of NLRSD.

Dr. Pilewski says the pandemic hasn’t just hurt academics.

“But it’s had a social, emotional, mental health impact,” he said.

Child mental health experts agree.

Katie Walker of Indigo Counseling says the pandemic has caused trauma and kids acting out is to be expected.

“When we do experience trauma, the way our brain works is our logical thinking is actually turned off,” Walker said.

Between financial strains at home and an unpredictable schedule, some kids are just having a harder time adjusting.

“I think we’re just living in a completely different age and time right now and the kids are just trying to survive,” Walker said.

Dr. Pilewksi says the district won’t tolerate inappropriate behavior and there have to be consequences, but also some empathy. This is something with which Walker agrees.

“Kids need to be held responsible for what they’ve done, they need to have natural consequences for what they’ve done, but please, let’s throw empathy in there,” Walker said. “Those are meant to be hand in hand.”

 The good news here is this won’t last forever.

“It’s okay that we’re all struggling, let’s just be kind and it’s gonna get better,” Walker said.

NLRSD says it’s being proactive about the problem by teaching social-emotional lessons in the classrooms, teaching conflict resolution, ramping up their mental health services and partnering with the North Little Rock Police Department to host community forums on youth violence.

The district says it could really use more adult mentors.

You can contact the district’s central office at (501) 771-8000 to find out how you can help.