The Repercussions Of Student Fights

I typically don’t discuss anything negative about my career as a high school English teacher.  Funny stuff?  You bet.  Inspirational topics?  No problem.  But those things that could be viewed as “airing dirty laundry?”  Nope–won’t write about it.

Until now.

I suspect the topic I’m about to address, however, is not unique to my place of work.  I’m willing to bet a lot of schools suffer the issue I’m about to explore.

We had a fight at the school today.  I’m sorry to say this is not all that unusual lately.  Though I wasn’t involved with it in any way, the effects of the fight were felt throughout the building.  I heard students talking about the fight gleefully, as though they watched some kind of live entertainment.  I saw students in the hall reenacting the fight as they smiled and laughed.

This upset me.

Look, kids get into fights.  Kids like watching fights.  It breaks up the monotony of the day, because no matter how fun we try to make school–school is school.  Anything exciting and dramatic is always welcomed by the students as respite.  None of this is new in the history of public education.

But when I see students taking joy in each other’s discord, when I see them celebrating their peers’ violence, it makes my heart ache.

Our school tries to teach social skills.  Some of our staff go above and beyond in working tirelessly to help kids bond and form communities.  Our entire staff buys into building relationships with the students.  We’re trying.  We’re all trying.  I bet your school is trying, too.

But try as we might, this is an issue that’s difficult to overcome.  I wish we could get the kids who like to fight–as well as the kids who like to watch fights–I wish we could get them to see the value in supporting each other, to realize that building each other up is so much more productive than tearing each other down.  I wish they knew that, once they leave our school, no one out there is going to do them any favors.  They’ll have to rely on themselves.

I wish they felt like they could also rely on each other.

Look, this is hard to write about.  I hope it’s coming across as intended.  I’m not trying to criticize my school, and I’m certainly not trying to belittle our students.  And most of our students do support one another.  But those kids who take pleasure in fighting, starting fights, and watching fights … I worry about those kids and what kind of a future they have in store for them.  I want the best for all of our students.

As teachers, we have to keep pushing social skills.  We have to keep building kids up.  We have to keep creating communities within our school.  We have to keep helping kids find their niche.

All I ask is that the community outside our school walls do the same.  Help us reinforce the power of education.  Help us show kids that love and kindness is always the answer.  Help us teach kids that we are always stronger when we stand together, not apart.

A better tomorrow can only begin when we work for a better today.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s Dr. Nekros e-book series HERE)

 

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Why It’s Hard To Write About Uncomfortable Things, and Why We Need To Do It Anyway

If you visit this website frequently, you realize that–other than my fiction–I tend to focus on fairly noncontroversial topics like movies, books, TV shows, and sports.  Sure, movie fans can get worked up, as can book lovers, but it’s not like anyone from my personal life is going to stop talking to me because of my take on Justice League.

My fiction is a different matter.  I’ve dealt with miscarriage, politics, religion, and everything else society tells us to avoid discussing, but I’ve done so with nuance and embedded within the lives of my characters.

On this blog, though, where anyone can pop in with minimal effort, I exercise quite a bit of self-restraint.

Do I have opinions about Donald Trump?  Of course.  Do I think about the NFL and its flag controversy?  Absolutely.  Do I firmly believe we have severe problems in our great nation regarding class and race?  Definitely.  But I tend to avoid writing about those things because, well, I don’t want to deal with the fallout.

I will often talk myself out of addressing those topics because I fear professional complications, personal ramifications, or even violent repercussions against my family.  Frankly, it’s easier to say nothing–to avoid making waves.

But here’s the thing–I can avoid making waves.  The fact that I have every advantage in the world is not lost upon me.  I can sit back, keep my mouth shut, and keep living a pretty sweet life.  No one is bothering me.  No one is oppressing me.  No one is attacking me.  No one is threatening me.  I can stay the course and be just fine because of my lot in life.

Is that right?

I don’t think it is.

Some would disagree, but I feel that I’ve been given a gift in that I can express myself through the written word.  My ideas flow through my fingers fairly concisely and articulately.  I am able to write about important issues whereas others can’t.

But I often choose not to.

Is that right?  If I believe in something, and if the expression of my beliefs could have positive implications for others, am I under a moral obligation to voice those thoughts?

I think I am.

Going forward, I’m going to strive to write about topics that I deem important regarding politics, social justice, religion, and community.

It terrifies me to do so.

Which is why I know I should follow through with this endeavor.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s latest book HERE!)