After a string of fights led to the arrest of 23 students, a group of concerned dads from Shreveport, La. decided to take action. Nearly 40 dads of students at the high school banded together to form “Dads on Duty,” taking shifts in order to be a presence at the school.
The fights were so disheartening to the student body and community that the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) organized a prayer meeting around the flagpole at the school just one week after the national See You at the Pole event. They prayed for peace and for healing to come to Southwood in the wake of the brawls. Scores of students and community leaders attended the prayer rally.
Dads on Duty answered the call in a profound way. As this group of dads man their shifts, they greet students, patrol the halls, and seek to promote a positive learning environment. Since the group formed, no incidents have occurred on campus. Michael LaFitte, the founder of the group, described their unique role: “We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us.”
The students say they can feel the difference as well. The soft, yet strong presence of fathers has been welcome. Any fights that may occur will have to make it through a wall of dads. “I immediately felt a form of safety…We stopped fighting; people started going to class,” explained one student in a recent CBS interview.
The newfound safety wasn’t the only thing that had students smiling, as the “dad jokes” have also been in full effect. One student said with a grin, “They just make funny jokes like, ‘Oh, hey, your shoe is untied,’ but it’s really not untied.”
The mix of the dad’s presence and positivity has led to a happier environment for the whole student body, garnering national media attention. The dads have been so encouraged by their success that they plan to continue to go to Southwood for the foreseeable future. There is even widespread interest to start forming Dads on Duty groups across the country.
This transformation calls into question arguments that parents should be less involved in schools. Dads on Duty’s involvement has been instrumental in fixing the violence that was spiralling out of control. The dads, speaking on why the change was so drastic, said, “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.”