After 23 students were arrested for fighting at Southwood High School, a group of Black fathers in Shreveport, Louisiana decided they were the best solution to the problem. So they decided they’d be the change they wanted to see and formed Dads on Duty.
Now, every day, a group of 40 dads alternate shifts and spend time at the school in groups to create a safer and more positive environment. Since they began coming, there hasn’t been one fight, according to CBS News.
Michael LaFitte, who founded the group, said he felt no one could do a better job with their kids than them. “We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us,” LaFitte said.
The students agree with them. “I immediately felt a form of safety,” one student told CBS. “We stopped fighting; people started going to class.”
“The school has just been happy — and you can feel it,” added another. “You ever heard of ‘a look?'” asked another student who talked about the impact a dad stare can have.
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Now instead of leaving in police cars, students are greeted with dad jokes, daps and smiles. Footage of the dads interacting with the students and lovingly encouraging them to go to class throughout the day shows the students respect them and seemingly welcome their presence.
It’s something the dads said they will continue to do. “Because not everybody has a father figure at home – or a male, period, in their life. So just to be here makes a big difference,” another member of Dads on Duty said.
The group said they hope to start chapters throughout Louisiana and eventually the rest of the country.
Some Twitter users applauded the men for stepping up. “Not only is this commendable and necessary, it’s old school. I grew up during a time when the adults in the neighborhood were all authority figures, whether you their children or not!” user @JehSquared wrote.
“It’s a proven fact that the Black Man brings peace and balance to ANY ecosystem he’s apart of.. Watch this video to see MASCULINITY at work,” @OfficialFBMA tweeted.
User @B_ImaRiot said it debunked the myth that Black fathers are not there for their children. “The whole “absent black father” trope is a myth and there is data to back that up,” @B_ImaRiot wrote.
There were some skeptics who commended the men for stepping up but expressed concern over the legality of the group’s intervention.
“I love it, but what happens when one of the kids disrespects them, or a parent claims one of the dads put his hands on their child. Great idea but in our culture, they are putting themselves at risk for a charge of some sort,” @MarleyRaii.
“Perhaps intervention not intent, but if/when a fight breaks out, what do they do? Watch or intervene. I love the looks of the program, but curious as to the rules set in place,” @PABCPA wrote.
Even though some understood @MarleyRaii’s point, they felt the reward was worth the risk. “This isn’t a moment this is a movement and it requires sacrifice for the greater good, our children. These courageous men are stepping up to the plate,” @Yolanda1649 tweeted. “I commend them and hope it destroys the school to prison pipeline one kid at a time.”
“Putting yourself at risk for a change” is called courage,” tweeted @CoachRPV. “Maybe these guys love those kids and their community enough to take a risk. Society is hurting for more men like them instead of the superabundance of “mind my own business” types we have now.”