To the Editor:
I know firsthand what a travesty of justice occurred with the firing of the South Carolina deputy who—I would argue—used justified force to arrest a student.
I experienced a situation similar to the one Deputy Ben Fields confronted. As the principal of an unruly secondary school, I was called one day by a teacher urgently seeking my help to come solve an emergency. Entering her classroom, I saw a large, angry girl at the front of the room loudly cursing her teacher and classmates, threatening to hurt anyone who approached her. The entire class and teacher had retreated to the back of the room, and she was effectively holding the entire classroom hostage with her defiant behavior.
I approached her in a fashion similar to how Mr. Fields approached the student in the South Carolina incident, trying to talk her down. But when I reached out to guide her out of the classroom, the situation exploded.
In one unguarded moment, I became one of the numerous educators in the United States who get assaulted annually by students. I found myself in a headlock, getting spit on, and punched in the face. I regained control in the only way possible—ripping the student’s grip away from my head and holding her firmly until police arrived.
People who argue against strong law enforcement in schools are harming our children and our education system. They are misguided: too cowardly to discipline children, and too ignorant of the damage that’s done to kids when rules are unenforced.
This trend must be confronted by people of every race who understand that children must have strong behavioral consequences or they will never grow up to be functioning adults.
Parents and schools must get back to saying no to any lazy, disrespectful, violent, drug-using, or immoral behavior in our children. They must start teaching and enforcing moral and spiritual values and personal accountability.
Mr. Fields only lost a job. The high school student lost a crucial opportunity to learn right from wrong. As a result, she’ll be forever tempted to see herself as a victim because of the moral malpractice our foolish society committed on her.
Paul D. White
A version of this article appeared in the December 09, 2015 edition of Education Week as Law Enforcement in Schools Teaches Accountability