Two boys at a Mesa, Arizona high school acted like boys this week and got into a fight in gym class. Their principal experienced a momentary bout of insanity, thinking that what he deemed to be “public humiliation” would be the best way to punish them.
One of the boys dared the other to hit him in gym class, and the ordeal began. The boys were sent to the principal’s office and given the choice to hold hands during lunch, or be suspended. I don’t condone violence, but this punishment pisses me off for so many reasons.
We’re having a hard enough time teaching kids that bullying is not okay without a principal engaging in it. Relentlessly poking “fun” at someone is in many situations the way ruthless bullying begins. What do you think the repercussions of this are going to be? These boys are probably going to be harassed for the rest of the school year – at least. CBS 5 Arizona reported that one of the young men admitted to ditching classes at the Mesa school Thursday because everyone was still teasing him about it.
I also have a problem with a principal who would put up as an example of public humiliation, two boys holding hands. What kind of message does that send to a young boy who may want to hold another boy’s hand? Look at these two boys holding hands in public! Look how hilarious it is! Yuck. Just, yuck. By assuming this would be a humiliating punishment for any young man, the principal is acting like a testosterone-ridden frat boy hazing his peers – rather than a responsible adult whose job it is to maintain a safe learning environment for young adults.
The community seems to be supporting his tactics. There was a sign in a front yard near the high school which reads, “Westwood neighborhood supports Principal Richard.” Thankfully, the school district does not. Mesa Public Schools released a statement which included, “the district does not condone the choice of in-school discipline given these students, regardless of their acceptance or willingness to participate. District leadership will address this matter with the school principal, and review district protocol regarding student discipline with all administrators.”
At least everyone hasn’t gone completely nuts.