Friday, December 10, 2010
Teachers Are At Risk Of Being Injured & Even Fired When Trying To Break Up Student Fights
When I was a "newbie teacher" I must have broke up numerous fights between students in my High School. As you can figure out I was young and clueless of the consequences in breaking up student fights. At the time nobody informed me of the danger in intervening in a physical altercation between students. Not the Principal, not the Assistant Principal, or even the Chapter Leader. I just thought that it was part of the job as a teacher to breakup student fights. Luckily, I never was hurt nor did the students complain to the Administration that I used excessive force or touched them inappropriately. Of course that was then, when teachers were looked upon with respect. However, this is now.
As I became more experienced as a teacher and the Klein Administration took charge of the schools and teacher disrespect became the norm, we were told by the Chapter Leader that a teacher should never break up a fight because of the danger to the teacher. First, you can be injured yourself. These students, especially in high school are strong and in fighting the students become stronger as adrenalin flows through their bodies and if they accidentally hit you, it can not only hurt but can cause long-term and lasting damage to you. Just look at what happened to "newbie" Spanish teacher Lissindia Batista when she tried to break up a fight. Second, it only takes a student or his/her parent to accuse the teacher of using excessive force when trying to break up a fight. In some extreme cases female students can falsely claim that the teacher touched them inappropriately when the teacher unwisely intervened in the altercation. This is very true if the female student holds a grudge against a male teacher. It only takes a female student to claim that she was touched sexually to have the hapless male teacher arrested and fired. On the other hand teacher complaints of being sexually harassed by students and Administrators are routinely dismissed.
In other words teachers have a target on their back and the less they get involved in student altercations the better. What should you do if two of your students are fighting? Simple, yell "stop, stop right now" and call for help. If your location does not have a communication system then send a student to get school safety or to the Dean's office for help. Finally, both the DOE and union will tell you that if you get physically involved in a student fight and need medical attention, you may not be covered by the medical plans! Think twice when you want to break up a student fight.
Remember, "no good deed goes unpunished" when it comes to the DOE.