The student news site of Little Rock Central High School

The Tiger Online

The student news site of Little Rock Central High School

The Tiger Online

The student news site of Little Rock Central High School

The Tiger Online

Commentary: Not a Fair Fight

Frequent campus fights prompt discussion of potential solutions
Photo by National Park Service

The sounds of raucous clamor, thunderous footsteps, and that burning sting of pepper spray in the air—there’s another fight.

Witnessing a fight has become like a rite of passage, much to the dismay of educators and students alike. My own cherished lunchtimes have been shortened and tedious classes lengthened because of these conflicts. These are minor annoyances, but there are also students who avoid coming to school or venturing through the crowded cafeteria and hallways because they are genuinely afraid of getting caught in the middle of a fight. Furthermore, teachers and security personnel have been injured in their efforts to break up these conflicts. 

But we know this. 

Instead, I find we often fail to consider why these fights happen in the first place. What causes students to feel that fighting is their best option?

When violence occurs, there’s a rush to portray those involved negatively. I’ve noticed my peers in AP classes define these individuals as failing students of color, isolating these individuals and adopting an unconscious bias that upholds the social and economic boundaries which influence participation in AP courses in the first place. This deepens the divide between supposedly high achieving students and those who are “not like us.” We will never be able to prevent school violence if we continue to adopt this mindset which assigns blame to students who are already burdened by economic insecurity, racial discrimination, and interpersonal conflict.

Another common conclusion is that the rise in fighting is because of social media’s far-reaching negative influence. While it is detrimental to publicize these fights via social media videos and posts, there are other complex issues in our society that also result in violence. The pressures of toxic masculinity that lead men to avoid talking about their emotions, the desire for male validation that divides women, and the effects of a lack of economic and family support, to name a few. Our school is not isolated from these circumstances.

So what can we do to solve this crisis? Well, for one, let’s avoid waging a war on those participating in fights and instead consider how to change the culture of our school to build a safer learning environment.

Rather than punishments and fear tactics, preventative measures focusing on the well-being of students should be prioritized. A 2004 study in the Professional School Counseling journal found that counselor interventions were more effective in reducing fights than suspensions, and I believe this is an option that should be explored. While counseling is available, the accessibility of this promising resource could be better advertised. 

Another way to improve our school environment is to create a more robust wellness center focused on improving mental health. If professional offices and universities utilize such spaces to reduce stress, why shouldn’t a high school like ours? 

A final solution I propose is community service. When students engage in physical fights, the action typically taken is in-school or out of school suspension. A potential disciplinary alternative is for students who fight to aid custodians in cleaning up the hallways, cafeteria, and bathrooms or to participate in a mandated number of school events. Not only would this be beneficial to our school community, it’s a means of instilling optimism in students by showing how they can contribute to the world in an important way. 

Homecoming spirit week opened with a spontaneous dance party in the cafeteria; this was also a notable day of no fights. Clearly, there’s power in giving students an outlet to express their energy more positively. 

No system is perfect and to bring about change is a collaborative and consistent effort, but by working together to invest in our students, we can be a united school.

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About the Contributor
Jaya Khullar
Jaya Khullar, Opinion Editor
I am a senior, and this is my second year as Tiger News opinion editor. I joined Tiger News so I could harness the power of words to make a difference in the community. Outside of the newsroom, I like to read classic literature, eat Mediterranean food, and hang out with my brother and sister.

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