A group of concerned parents have joined forces to combat high school violence.
Michael LaFitte Jr. and four other dads have established the “Dads on Duty USA” intervention squad to protect children at Southwood High School in Shreveport, La.
LaFitte Jr. revealed he felt compelled to act after more than 24 minors were arrested, suspended, and expelled in just three days. He hopes the squad will show juveniles there is a strong parental presence on school grounds.
“We are dads [and] we decided the best people who can take care of our kids are … us,” he said according to Newsner.
The group started out with five dads and has since grown to more than 40 members. Each day, six to 10 dads take turns watching the campus with supervision from an independent security organization. Many full-time working fathers are also involved in their children’s extracurricular and sporting activities.
“Although we are titled ‘Dads on Duty,’ we also serve as uncles on duty [and] we serve as men of the community on duty,” LaFitte Jr. said according to Yahoo News. “There are some folks who do not have a father or do not have such a great relationship with their father, and it is our goal to let them see what the right relationship with a male figure is supposed to look like.”
Parent Zachary Johnson has four children at school and he always makes time to supervise them.
“Some days we have long, long days but we will be at school no matter what,” he said according to the publication. “When your heart is into whatever you are doing, you make it work.”
Southwood High principal Kim Pendleton revealed the dads, who wear matching black and white t-shirts, are much more welcome than law enforcement officers.
“After the fights there was a heavy police presence at the school, and the kids told me they did not like that” she said according to the publication. “Kids see them as they are walking in, in the morning–they greet the kids [and] they tell corny jokes. When I do my rounds to classrooms, they walk with me. They are making sure that kids are leaving school safely [and] people are able to talk to them.”
One student feels much safer on school grounds. There are fewer fights and class attendance has improved.
“Dads on Duty” plans to expand to other schools in the district and, eventually, have a presence at every school across America.