Dads on Duty: Fathers intervene after violence spikes at Louisiana high school

·4 min read

After 23 Southwood High School students were arrested in three days, a group of local fathers stepped in and not a single incident has been reported since

As violent altercations among students surged at a Shreveport, Louisiana high school, it seemed nobody — not police, campus security nor school officials — could keep the peace. That is, until a group of local fathers took the lead.

Before Michael R. La’Fitte II formed Dads on Duty, a volunteer group of approximately 40 fathers who line the halls of Southwood High School in shifts, a total of 23 students had been arrested for fighting over the course of 72 hours.

Not a single violent incident among the high schoolers has been reported since the dads set foot on campus, according to CBS News.

“We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us,” LaFitte told CBS News’ Steve Hartman.

“I immediately felt a form of safety,” a Southwood student told CBS News about their experience since the arrival of the dads. “We stopped fighting; people started going to class,” said another.

“We’re not a security force of any way,” La’Fitte told KSLA News about the group, none of whom have formal criminal justice or counseling degrees.

Students say the presence of the dads has not only been reassuring, but the added source of tough love and fatherly humor has provided students a bright spot in their school day.

“They just make funny jokes like, ‘Oh, hey, your shoe is untied,’ but it’s really not untied,” a student told CBS News.” The school has just been happy — and you can feel it,” another added.

“They hate it! They’re so embarrassed by it,” La’Fitte told CBS News about the signature brand of “dad jokes” he has mastered along with the rest of the group.

The endeavor has been so successful, per CBS News, that the fathers plan to continue promoting a positive learning environment at Southwood indefinitely and have goals of expanding Dads on Duty with chapters across the state of Louisiana.

“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,” one of the dads told CBS News.

La’Fitte is a leader in the Shreveport community in more ways than one, serving as the president of the city’s NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) chapter when he isn’t helping with Dads on Duty.

Prior to La’Fitte’s election to the seat in March, similarly to the high school, the chapter had undergone a string of internal conflict that he told the Shreveport Times he intended to address during his term.

Southwood High School via Google Maps Street View
Southwood High School via Google Maps Street View

“We’ve gone through some tumultuous times since the past election, November 7,” La’Fitte said. “There have been some things done and that have been said within the organization. So, we’ve just got to bring the infighting to an end.”

“Once we get a handle on the infighting, we’re going to make sure that we tackle the things in our community, whether that be city government, police, and fire or whether that be with the regular things and or issues of citizens here in Shreveport-Caddo,” he added.

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