By: Denise Simon | Founders Code
Primer: In 2020, USAToday published in part the following:
Schools are safe, safer in fact than they’ve been for decades, and not because of the presence of an armed police officer in the hallways. Rather, schools provide structure and supervision that many kids lack during their out-of-school hours.
Although SROs may give parents some sense of comfort that their children are protected while at school, students actually face certain perils because of constant police presence. The well-traveled school-to-prison pipeline has been documented by research in terms of greater reliance on the justice system in response to student infractions, especially for minority youngsters.
If children are not punished in some form for violence and criminal activity it adds to the already broken juvenile justice system.
SHREVEPORT, La. — A group of fathers in Shreveport are taking safety into their own hands after repeated violence broke out in one school, where 23 students were arrested over a short three-day period. “Dads on Duty” showed up and the daily brawls suddenly came to an end.
One of the fathers, Michael LaFitte, launched a group called “Dads on Duty.” It ignited a desire in 40 fathers to sign up and take shifts at Southwood High School in Shreveport. Their goal is to simply maintain a peaceful environment, and thus far, it’s been profoundly successful, CBS News reported.
Although none of the fathers have a “pedigree” of expertise, i.e. degrees in school counseling or criminal justice, they do have some relevant experience, namely concerned parents who have a shared, invested interest in a safe learning environment for their kids.
“We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us,” LaFitte told the news outlet.
School violence increased last month when ongoing fights resulted in 23 teen arrests over three days. Sept. 16 was an extremely violent day, which led to 14 arrests after two major fights erupted, requiring the school’s resource officer to call for backup officers to respond, Fox reported.
“We had a fight at 9:30,” Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator said at the time, according to KSLA. “I believe that there were seven kids that were. I call them kids, that sounds innocent. Seven of these thugs were expelled or sent home.”
However, since “Dads on Duty” was launched and deployed, there have been no instances of violence. Moreover, some students said their presence has helped the environment at the school, CBS reported.
DADS ON DUTY: After a violent week of fighting at a Louisiana high school, parents knew something had to change. So, a group of dads decided to show up not just for their kids – but for the whole student body – to help maintain a positive environment. @SteveHartmanCBS has more. pic.twitter.com/Uux3qx48sd
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) October 22, 2021
“I immediately felt a form of safety,” one of the students said. “We stopped fighting; people started going to class.”
“You ever heard of ‘a look?’” one student asked while describing a “power” the student said all fathers have.
Furthermore, students say the fathers bring a sense of security as they crack “dad jokes” while interacting with teens in the hallways.
“They just make funny jokes like, ‘Oh, hey, your shoe is untied,’ but it’s really not untied,” one student told CBS.
“The school has just been happy — and you can feel it,” another student said.
As teen violence has also increased in other locales, the fathers said they will keep with the program indefinitely and would like to start chapters throughout Louisiana and even the country.
“Because not everybody has a father figure at home – or a male, period, in their life. So just to be here makes a big difference,” the group of dads said.