High school is a tough time for many teenagers. In fact, one high school ended up with 23 students being arrested in a week. With violence increasing every day, some of the parents decided to take matters into their own hands.
Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana had a major problem with violence in their hallways. Students seemed to be getting into one dangerous altercation after another. In the span of one week, 23 students were arrested for violent fights. At this point, the parents knew something had to change, and quickly.
A group of 40 fathers aptly called Dads on Duty, take shifts spending time at the high school. They greet students in the morning and help maintain a positive environment for learning, instead of violence. Surprisingly, this action has had quite an impact. Not one violent incident has been reported since the dads joined the high school. So, what did they do that turned things around so quickly? They listened.
None of the Dads on Duty are counselors or psychologists, nor are they criminal prevention experts. However, they are dads with teenage children, and they know how important it is to connect to kids and make them feel heard.
“We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us. “We are coming out of concern, and out of love,” Michael LaFitte, who started Dads on Duty, said.CBS
“The city was overwhelmed by the number of fights that were taking place at Southwood High School, and these men stepped up to the plate and said this is something that we need to do,” Shreveport City Councilwoman Tabitha Taylor said.USA Today
Dads on Duty
Initially, the dads planned a meeting that was expected to last 45 minutes or so. Four hours later, they came up with the plan to be Dads on Duty at the high school.
“At the end of the meeting there was a group of fathers who decided to just go to the school and patrol and walk around and show a strong male presence on the campus,” LaFitte said.
“I don’t care how old you are or what size you are, it’s something about seeing a man, a positive male figure, a father, your daddy or whatever you want to call them, at the school. It will make you straighten up and fly right.”USA Today
Since the morning of September 20th of this year, the dads have been present at the high school. LaFitte said that their role is not that of an enforcer or a guard, but rather the cool uncle you want to hang out with.
“We are dealing with high-schoolers, and high-schoolers want to have fun,” he said. “So, at the end of the day if we’re looking to get something done for them, the easiest way to do it is by making them laugh.”
“One of the issues that we have a lot of times with correcting children is we are not listening. We have to respect them on that level, to listen to them, because once we listen to them, they will take instruction.”USA Today
“I immediately felt a form of safety,” one of the students said. “We stopped fighting. We started going to class.” “They just make funny jokes like, ‘Oh, hey, your shoe is untied,’ but it’s really not untied,” a student commented.CBS
It’s just the little things,” LaFitte said. “We’re talking to them about life skills, about grooming, about self-respect. We’re listening to our young people.”USA Today
Spreading the Good Vibes
The dads hope to spread the word on how well this program is working. Hopefully, they will be able to share their ideas with other troubled high schools and give their students the support they need. LaFitte started a GoFundMe with has currently raised just over $22,000.
“There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scene,” Southwood Principal Kim Pendleton said. “These wonderful men are just a forefront. There is a lot of work that happens with them, a lot of conversations that we have, conversations within the community. The women are behind them; I am one of them. The main thing we all have in common is that we believe in the whole child.”USA Today
What do you think about this group of dads helping out at a high school? Would you support something like this? If so, donate to their GoFundMe, and share this story to raise awareness. Your children are always learning and watching from the examples you set. Remember to stay mindful of them and be a good role model. That’s what Dads on Duty are all about. We need more groups like this, who are ready to uplift our children. Rather than punish them. What do you think?
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