After 23 students at Southwood High School in Louisiana were arrested for fighting in just three days, a group of concerned fathers have started hanging out at the school in shifts to try to curb the violence.
Since the group of around 40 dads started spending time at the school in shifts, not a single violent incident has been recorded.
Michael LaFitte started the group Dads on Duty. “We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us,” he told CBS News.
“I immediately felt a form of safety,” one student said. “We stopped fighting – people started going to class.”
“They just make funny jokes like, ‘Oh, hey, your shoe is untied,’ but it’s really not untied,” another student said.
“They hate it! They’re so embarrassed by it,” Mr LaFitte said.
“The school has just been happy, and you can feel it,” one student told CBS.
The group now plan on sticking around at the school.
“Not everybody has a father figure at home – or a male, period, in their life. So just to be here makes a big difference,” one of the dads said.
They want to start Dads on Duty chapters across the state and possibly throughout the US.
Before the arrival of the dads, 14 students were arrested on a single day, 16 September, when two fights erupted and the school had to call the police to sort out the situation.
Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator told KSLA at the time that seven students “were expelled or sent home”.
The sheriff added that one fight started at 9.30am and another at 3pm, when the Sheriff said law enforcement “had ten or eleven units from CPSO [that] had to come in from where we were patrolling to try and break up that fight. Then there were several more there who were sent home, there will be more that are expelled”.
“They are all gonna end up dead or in jail if the parents don’t get involved,” the sheriff said of the students last month.
“Southwood is one of the schools that we are trying to help with, but we have been having problems and fights with Southwood since the beginning of the school year,” he told KSLA. “We have a gang problem there. We have several gangs that are trying to one-up each other and trying to act like grown men when they are just kids. We have got to somehow get a handle on the fact that this is illegal and disruptive behaviour that they are involved in.”
In a statement on 17 September, Caddo Schools said: “Caddo Schools condemns any act of violence. This week our district saw violence from the community make its way onto a school campus. Caddo recognizes the surge of incidents at Southwood High School and as a result, there will be random searches and increased security.”
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