BY ROSA PRESTON
Throwing hands, quarreling, wrestling, sparring. No matter what you call it, it all means the same thing: fighting. Whether participating, witnessing, or hearing about a fight, students in any school can say they’ve had an experience with fighting. And at Truman, the word seems to be going around a lot more than it should.
Ever since the beginning of the school year, it seems more students have been participating in fights. And the staff of course must intervene, including Jami Pelzl, the school guidance counselor. When asked how often she has to deal with fights, she responded, “This year I have assisted in breaking up 1 fight. I would say 2-3 times per month I assist students who are struggling with conflict resolution.”
And it seems that certain grades fight more than others. Most students as well as Pelzl claimed that 9th graders have fought more than students of higher grades. “Our class has always been the most aggressive, and I cannot tell you why,” said freshman Reese Cook. “Ever since I can remember, the way that a lot of people in my grade have dealt with things was by yelling and screaming at each other, making fun of each other, and by physically hurting one another.”
But it’s not only bad for the staff and students overall–fighting can have pretty bad consequences not only at school and physically, but legally as well. The school consequences are in or out of school suspension, which can be changed depending on the event. But there are physical consequences as well, including things from minor injuries to hospitalization. And while physical school fights have become an often occurring event, luckily Truman hasn’t hit that point. According to Pelzl, “Physical fights have become a weekly occurrence, but luckily there were only minor injuries involved, and no one has been severely injured because of fights.”
All this really makes you wonder: What can prevent all the fighting? Cook would like to see the staff become more pro-active in their handling of behavior that ends up leading to fights. “I don’t know if these people are just really sensitive, or if no one really tried to correct this when it happened. A lot of the time when things like this happened, especially earlier on in school, they would get a minor punishment and go on with their day. No one really tried to correct the behavior and tell them how to deal with their anger differently,” said Cook.
As previously stated, most students are talked to and given an in or out of school suspension, but this may not be enough. Yes, students should be punished for fighting and violence, but students should also be given an opportunity to process with a school official to discover the true motivation behind the fight. That could lead to a more natural discussion on how to properly handle conflict. But for now, what we can do is to inform the staff whenever we see violence or conflict, and let them handle it from there.