Looks like the more we try to do something about a real problem in our town, the more we see that problem grow. It’s a little like trying to dip the ocean dry by using a spoon. Just when we think we’re making progress, along comes another wave.
Reports of yet another public school fight have found their way into public arena. We tried to count the number of times this school year we’ve heard of school agers who thought they could fisticuff their differences away. We ran out of fingers. And, unfortunately, these fingers-full might not be all that have occurred in our schools and on school properties.
These reported (plus, we’re told, some unreported) rumbles have involved anywhere from a couple of combatants to larger groups. Reasons, we hear, range from being “disrespected” to “gettin’ in my face” and the dreaded “running with the wrong dawgs.” But the latest, we’re told, was caused by a wrong answer.
A young man reportedly asked a young girl for some of her potato chips. She reportedly said no. He reportedly knuckle chopped (hit) her. After the School Resource Officer intervened and took the young man into custody, the young girl allegedly conked (hit) the young man on the noggin’ (head) with a heavy object. Cool to the umpteenth degree.
Want to prove you’re a man? Go find yourself a girl who won’t share her potato chips and hit her squarely in the chip taster. Want to prove you’re so bad you’re good? A head shot with a hard object ought to give a person the reputation that apparently means so much.
About all this stuff will get you is a visit to the hoosegow, juvenile version. But wait. That’s no deterrent. Far too many young’uns use that visit as a learning experience. That is, if they’re in the facility long enough. Most times, the youthful offender is merely remanded to the custody of parents/guardian and is free to get back at it before the ink dries on the incident report.
Adding to the problems are actions beginning in neighborhoods and ending at the schools. There was the incident at a Minden High football scrimmage when someone shouted something about a gun in the stadium, causing evacuation. That, reportedly, came in the aftermath of a (you guessed it) school fight.
Most recently, a young teen was found with a gun at the MHS homecoming parade. His reason: fear of gang retaliation for the potato chip incident. And, reportedly, an alert employee saw an armed person walking across a local school campus shortly after most students had left. A lockdown was ordered for remaining kids and for school staff. No one was hurt. That genius is still being sought, we hear.
School and law enforcement officials are trying to get a handle on what seems to be an escalating trend of violence, and potentially dangerous situations. SROs are on each parish campus, and that’s a very positive step. But, as one of our favorite chiefs of police said many times, a cop on every corner won’t stop all crime. And, an SRO in every hallway won’t stop all fights.
Kids are inclined to follow the leader, but first we must determine who fills that bill. And, as we’ve seen in other areas, we need leaders who prove themselves and not the self-anointed types.
Our law enforcement officers reportedly are working diligently to crack down on gang activities, especially among those very young steppas (some as young as 12) who are trying to impress their elders, the 18 to 25-year olds. The strategy there, we’re told, is to break it up on the streets before it snakes its way into schools.
Information coming from the schools is sometimes sketchy. We’re told bad publicity is bad for the system as a whole. Not true. Transparency breeds trust. There’s no reason to keep the public in the dark. It is, after all, our school system. You know. Public.
What can we do? Cooperate with law officers and school officials. Give them the support they need, mostly through information. Eyes and ears extend parish wide. To alter the quote from the Captain to Cool Hand, “what we got here is failure to cooperate.” That’s a subject in which we do not need to score an “F.”