Fighting Students? A Little Public Humiliation Will Fix That

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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.

(photo: Tom Wang/






  1. chickadee

    December 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I think you mean, “Two boys at a Mesa, Arizona high school acted like *idiots* this week and got into a fight in gym class.”

    Not to be all preachy, but your opening sentence makes assumptions about acceptable behavior by boys in schools that schools do not think is or should be a given. Also, you have used both ‘principle’ and ‘principal’ in your article. I presume you know the correct usage and this is a proofreading issue.

    Two boys at a Mesa, Arizona high school acted like boys this week and got into a fight in gym class.

    Read more:

    • Guerrilla Mom

      December 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      No, I never said it was acceptable. What I meant with the whole “boys will be boys” thing is that boys have been engaging in this kind of behavior forever and certainly a principal should have some tactics to deal with this behavior that don’t involve making two boys hold hands in the quad.

    • copycait

      December 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      I can see that the implication of your opening sentence though is that when one fights, he is just “acting like a boy.” For one thing, not all boys fight. For another this also implies the inverse – that boys who DON’T fight are NOT acting like boys (and are therefore acting like what? girls?).

      What would you have said in your opening line if the fighters were girls? They were acting like ________? If the answer is “girls,” then fine. If your answer is anything else, then I would agree with chickadee that your lead is making gender-based assumptions and could use some revision.

    • chickadee

      December 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Exactly what copycat said. I didn’t say that you thought the violence was acceptable, since you were clear that you did not. But your first sentence makes it sound like a thing that boys do, so it isn’t surprising. Those attitudes contribute to the assumption that physical altercations are not unusual with boys, which is a kind of harmful attitude, and I am objecting to “boys will be boys.”

  2. Kim

    December 1, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I see that once again we are mis-using the word “bullying”

    HOW is the principal bullying these boys? Sounds like a wonderfully creative punishment to me. If my son was forced to hold hands with someone he hit, I would be giving that principal a pat on the back.

    • Andrea

      December 2, 2012 at 7:59 am

      I agree with you. However, I think the implication here is that the punishment is meant to humiliate, know..boys holding hands..he he..that is gay. I think that is what is intended, but of course, I can’t be sure.

      I have several problems with this article. For one, fighting is not a boys will be boys thing. Nothing pisses me off more than that statement. It is so fucking inane. Second, schools in general have SO FEW options when it comes to punishment. Suspension is no longer allowed. They can’t, of course, paddle them. They can’t yell at them or anything like that because that would be “bullying” and subjected to lawsuits. They can’t remove them from the school. These types of punishments are the only thing that schools have left and now authors like this content that this is “bullying”.

      Maria, your articles used to funny and interesting. Are you trying to channel Eckler now with writings that are meant to stir people up (in not a good way)?

  3. Justme

    December 2, 2012 at 8:33 am

    The school should already have some sort of policy in place that dictates exactly what the disciplinary action should be regarding intentional physical assault on another student.

    Is this punishment creative? Absolutely…..but probably more appropriate for siblings within a family and NOT for the public (or private) school system.

    And on notion of “boys acting like boys”…ALL children have the capacity to fight with each other and ALL children can be taught to restrain themselves and resolve issues in a more civilized manner. Just this week two of my 7th grade girls were placed into in-school-suspension for a fight that broke out in the locker room. This took place in a very upper middle class area…poor decision making can occur with ANY child.

  4. Blueathena623

    December 3, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I read about this on another site, an honestly, my first thought was that the principal was trying to make get along. Like the 30 million sitcom shows where enemies become stuck together (glue, handcuffs) and have to learn to work together.

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