During one week at Southwood High School in Shreveport, LA there were so many fights that 23 students were arrested. Clearly, a crisis was at hand. That crisis was stalled, however, when a group of student’s fathers took matters into their own hands and organized “Dads on Duty,” a group of about 40 fathers who take shifts spending time at the school. Since Dads on Duty began their shifts at the school, there have been no fights and, consequently, no arrests.
The Dads don’t do counseling. They don’t police the halls. They don’t administer justice to students who are acting badly. It’s their mere presence at the school that inspires an atmosphere of cooperation, safety, good behavior, going to class, and what one student describes as happiness. “The school has just been happy,” the student said, “and you can feel it.” The Dads have no special training. It’s their experience and the respect they receive as fathers that gets the job done. Encouraging the students to go to class, joking with them, bantering with them in the halls, and giving the occasional “look” is how they’ve kept a lid on the violence that was overtaking the school.
I’ve written here before on parents being the key to the success of children. School and community-based programs are fine, but even these program stand little chance of success if parents are not on board. This is why the crisis of fatherless homes is so acute. The Dads point out that many of the students at Southwood don’t have fathers or any men in their lives. Their presence at the school offers a fatherly contribution that is sorely needed.
Frankly, my cynical self is somewhat surprised that Dads on Duty has been allowed to do what they do. Administrators, bureaucrats, and “professional educators” are too often unimpressed with the role parents play in the education and development of children. Over recent decades, especially since the 1960s, a cottage industry of child-rearing “experts” has denigrated the place and importance of parents in the lives of children. We’ve managed to convince ourselves that having other people raise our children by way of day care or pre-schools or the ever-increasing after-school and weekend activities is optimum. After all, aren’t these people trained in child-development and education. Most parents don’t have degrees in child psychology or child behavioral science. Doesn’t it make sense that “experts” and “trained professionals” would do a better job raising a child and giving that child all he or she requires to succeed than a mother and father who have no special training?
In a word: No. Expertise by degrees and professional training cannot replace what parents ordinarily can give a child that no one else can: the investment of love. Yes, there are bad parents out there, and our media elites are dedicated to headlining every one of them. But, most parents genuinely want to do right by their kids, and most parents do the best they can — if their allowed to by a culture that seems more interested in denigrating and ridiculing their efforts than in supporting them.
The men who’ve joined Dads on Duty have the right idea. They are taking responsibility for the safety and success of their children, and of all the students at Southwood High School. They hope to take their idea to other schools. They ought to be commended for stepping up and meeting a need. The Jewish religious sage and scholar Hillel said, “If not now, when? If not me, who?” These Dads have answered those questions with their own time, effort, and integrity. God bless them!
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.
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