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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cage Fights At School?

According to Fox News, a 2008 report from Dallas School District's Office of Professional Responsibility found that a then-principal of a Dallas high school (between 2003 and 2005) knew of the practice of putting students in a steel utility cage to battle it out with bare fists and without head protection. The office's documents report that the principal "knew of the practice, allowed it to go on for a time, and failed to report it."

The cage fighting was allegedly uncovered during an investigation into grade-changing for student athletes that eventually cost the school their 2006 boys state basketball championship, a Dallas paper reported. The principal resigned in 2008 after the grade-changing investigation ended.

Of course, the principal denies having any knowledge of cage fighting at the school. But, many of the staff named in the report are still employed at the school. These shocking findings beg further investigation.

Barbarity to appease justice? One must wonder what injuries, physical and mental, may have occurred to how many students during the practice. Corporal punishment in some sick sense? How could this have been condoned for three years without public outcry and prosecution? Granted, many believe that discipline, in general, is lacking in the majority of America's public high schools; however, the administration that chooses to wield authority by allowing the use of closed fists to settle school matters practices sheer stupidity.

I taught in the public school system for 27 years, and I have witnessed and broken up many unauthorized student fights in hallways, outside buildings, and even in classrooms. I want to tell you the nature of the majority of the fights I witnessed.

1. Most of the fights were not fair. They usually involved a bigger student striking a smaller student first. Clearly, the aggressor did not want to fight an equal opponent, but he chose to earn his idiotic badge of "Mr. Tough Guy" by pummeling some poor student half his size.

2. Most of the fights were over remarks (which were often erroneous) made by a third party (who often wanted to see blood). For example, Billy told Johnny that Freddy had said Johnny's girlfriend had gone out with Freddy. The fights usually built up all day with rumor and name-calling until the opponents squared off surrounded by a blood-thirsty mob of students. Seldom did students break up a fight unless they saw serious damage.

3. Most of the fights didn't solve problems; instead, the fights led to further confrontations between the participants or their families. In other words, "truth" to each family involved depended upon their student's interpretation of events, not the school's supposedly thorough investigations. The families often fought each other, or the participants sometimes fought again after suspensions.

4. Most of the fights disrupted the learning processes of the entire school. Whispers and allegations spread like wildfire through the campus during fight day. Old hatreds were often rekindled because the "Tough Guys" had to be extra macho with blood in the air. Bad attitudes surfaced, and sometimes groups eventually fought each other.

5. Many of the fights resulted in serious injury. Scarred faces, lost teeth, broken bones, severe lacerations and bruises, serious concussions-- Thank God, in my district, no deaths. In a nearby district, however, a student ultimately died as a result of one punch to the abdomen. High school students are very strong and unaware of their strength while feeling bullet proof in a fight.

6. Many of the fights were comprised of "sucker punches" and other equally nasty tactics. Students, hostile and unconcerned about the welfare of others, often chose to get an unfair advantage by using whatever means available at the time.

7. Many of the students, after maturing, were genuinely sorry to have hurt another human being and now live with that regret.

In summary, fighting in school is terrible, no matter how it occurs. Wake up students, parents, staff, administration, and school boards to the fact that fighting must be stopped to insure the public safety.

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