Where are the Teachers When a Fight Erupts?

Either it’s just me or the quality of yard duty supervision is severely lacking. In the short time I have been working on this blog, I have encountered many cases of schoolyard bullying occurring amongst a crowd of student onlookers, yet without a teacher anywhere in sight. Either this has to do with an awareness issue among teachers or schools that have yet to properly address the supervision requirements for their school. There should be sufficient numbers of teachers on duty to deal with incidents as well as to patrol potential blindspots.

Here is but one example of a fight that occurred without being picked up by a teacher:

Marshall Brooks’s cheekbone was broken in two places and his eye socket shattered when one of his classmates gave him a vicious beating last week just outside their Westwood Senior High School yard.

But what was most horrifying to the seasoned police officers and school principal who viewed video footage of the attack in Hudson is that not one of the 50 or so students looking on tried to stop the beating or bothered to call 911.

Instead, they captured the action on their cellphones, eager to upload the drama to the Web. Only after the damage was done did someone step in.

“I saw the video and can’t believe no one intervened, or called police or even tried to help the young man,” said Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Sgt. Bruno Beaulieu.

“It was an unfair fight, like between David and Goliath, with the attacker at least twice the size of the victim.”

A 17-year-old student at the school, who can’t be named because he’s a minor, was charged with assault causing bodily harm and was released to his parents on a promise to appear in court at a later date.

He’s not allowed on school property for the rest of the academic year.

Brooks, 17, is recuperating at his Rigaud home after having reconstructive surgery at the Montreal General Hospital. Doctors feared he might lose the sight in his left eye, but, fortunately, it has returned – albeit a bit blurry.

“The kids didn’t seem to get that what they were watching was something dangerous,” said Brooks’s mother, Tina.

“Some were his friends and didn’t or couldn’t do anything and instead of calling 911, they were creating something cool and funky for Facebook.”

Brooks said he remembers being put in a headlock, pulled to the ground and punched repeatedly. But he said the fact that no one came to his rescue – and worse, recorded his suffering – doesn’t surprise him.

“It’s high school tradition to record everything and every fight,” he said.

“And compared to what you can find on TV or the Internet, a fight is nothing.”

The video of the beating has since been taken down from YouTube.

Australia has very strict procedures and regulations when it comes to yard duty. Perhaps these standards should be adopted worldwide.

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4 Responses to “Where are the Teachers When a Fight Erupts?”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    Other teachers and I have seen similar, and even worse incidents and have tried to intervene. In one such incident a young lady teacher, who thought she was safe, was suddenly king hit by a student who hadn’t been involved in the fight directly. He seized an opportunity, ran up and punched this young lady in the face. During another such incident at the same school the principal was struck on the head with a piece of metal pipe. During the same incident I interposed myself between a student brandishing a branch torn from a tree and his intended victim, who wasn’t sensible enough to make himself scarce, thus inflaming his attacker. All the while other students streamed out of classes to watch and record the fun(?)! The state education authorities do little to help as their first consideration is how to keep the press and the public from finding out. This takes precedence over the welfare of any students and staff involved. They are just as likely to retreat into denial. I am disgusted.

    • Michael G. Says:

      You have every right to be disgusted. Teachers can not effectively handle situations if they aren’t properly supported and protected. Worse still, are the schools that try to convice teachers not to report assualts on them by students to protect their reputations.

  2. pepperfire Says:

    Interestingly, this is my son you’re talking about; I tend to agree with you that kids need more supervision, not less, but I don’t believe that was the problem in this case.

    This incident occurred 20 minutes AFTER the lunch bell had rung. These are Seniors in high school, many of them graduate THIS year. At which point are the kids themselves to be held accountable for their own behaviours?

    The teachers are told that it is their responsibility to care for these situations, yet they are paid peanuts, overworked and expected to do things that are above and beyond not only their pay scale, but their training as well. They are teachers, not UFC referees.

    Unfortunately, what we know is that a great deal of trouble seems to have been taken by the kids to keep not only Marshall but also the teachers from learning of the fight. This was not a situation where kids needed more supervision, but rather a case where kids need to know that this should not be “normal” behaviour to plan an attack on someone and execute it without the adults finding out. They need to be taught that it only takes that “one lucky punch” to seriously damage a person or worse, to kill them.

    This incident came as a result of a group of kids planning for a “fight” and getting one. I honestly doubt that either one of them had any clue that a high school fist fight could cause one of them to lose an eye or perhaps THEY would have behaved quite differently.

    FYI, Marshall is fine. His eyesight has been steadily clearning and he is none the worse for wear; except for a black eye and a steel plate in his head where his orbital floor once was.

    Please hold the “attacker” in this situation in your hearts, he is just a 17 year old boy himself.

    Tina Brooks

    • Michael G. Says:

      Thank you Tina for your comment. I am very happy to hear that your son is recovering.

      I must say though, that while we may be piad less than what we might be worth and while we may be overworked, we take our jobs very seriously. We generally do all we can to ensure that our students are well looked after.

      The fact that students went to such lengths to ensure that teachers were unaware of the fight goes to prove how effective a strong teacher presence can be in dealing with schoolyard fights. There most certainly should be adequate numbers of teachers outside during recess and students hanging around 20 minutes after the lunch beel should have been picked up earlier.

      Schools that improve the teacher presence in the yard will have a much better chance of minimising episodes like the one that caused your son to be injured so badly.

      As for holding the attacker in my heart. I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for a 17 year old that uses violence to settle disagreements.

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