On Oct. 19, South Carolina school resource officer Ben Fields was caught on camera as he flipped a student out of her desk. The original video showed Fields dragging the girl across the floor and flipping her desk in the process. What the video doesn’t show, however, is the kind of defiance and confrontation that led up to these events and is to some degree present in almost every high school.
Recently, a third video has emerged that shows the 16-year-old swinging at the officer after refusing to give up her phone and leave a classroom after being instructed by a teacher and administrator.
The attempted assault, attitude and defiance of the teenager doesn’t justify the actions of Deputy Fields, but I understand why he did what he did. Too many students don’t respect authority. Teachers can threaten in-school or out-of-school suspension, but there are very few kids who those warnings will scare, especially when OSS is basically a vacation.
Behavior and the lack of respect that students have for their authority figures in Hall County schools is a growing problem. Everyone has been in a class where there’s at least one kid who can’t be disciplined simply because he or she doesn’t care, so no punishment works. I’ve even seen kids bring teachers to tears because of how unruly they act.
The problem we now face is three-fold. Most of the time, the problem begins at home. The type of relationships that students develop with their parents can directly affect their performance and behavior at school. If a parent develops an indifferent attitude to their child’s success, this attitude can translate into their kid.
Part of the blame falls on the students and their behavior. The other is the responsibility of the administration.
The first step in fixing the problem is on the administration’s part. The school should be more concerned about the well-being of the students than how many disciplinary notes it’s given this year.
If the students face more severe consequences for the way they acted — if they were no longer allowed to make up missed assignments due to OSS, or weren’t allowed to use their phones while in ISS, or weren’t allowed to return to school after being expelled — their behavior would improve.
The only other step that can fix this problem is instilling respect and manners into teenagers. I’m not saying send everyone to cotillion, but some teenagers have no appreciation for the time and effort that teachers put into their jobs.
And yes, it’s their job, but they go above and beyond to try to teach us and many times receive nothing but resistance and hostility. This isn’t fair to the teachers or to the students. It’s hard to sit in a class where every day is an uphill battle and not because the material is too hard.
My challenge to students is to stand in your teachers’ shoes. How would you like it if someone treated you the way you treat them? Take a long, hard look at how you act in class and ways you can make your classroom a more productive place.
To teachers: Make students more involved by providing students with more engaging assignments and being consistent in your disciplinary procedures.
And to the administration: If you really want to make our county the best place on Earth, make our school better by decreasing classroom disruptions by disciplining students with more effective consequences and providing a better learning environment for those eager to learn.