Shreveport, LA – After 23 students were arrested in three days amidst violent fighting that plagued the school, a group of fathers of students at Southwood High School decided to take matters into their own hands.
A group of about 40 fathers calling themselves “Dads on Duty” have joined forces to patrol the school in rotating shifts that begin with greeting students as they arrive on campus in the morning, CBS News reported.
Fighting had gotten out of control on the campus, and in one instance, a student punched an assistant principal, KTBS reported.
On Sept. 16, the school resource officer had to call for backup from police after two different fights broke out, FOX News reported.
Fourteen students were arrested that day.
School officials said there hasn’t been a single episode of violence on the campus since Dads on Duty showed up.
Michael LaFitte, who founded Dads on Duty, explained why the group is so effective, CBS News reported.
“We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us,” Lafitte said.
The fathers wear shirts to identify themselves as part of the group and hang out in the hallways in between classes, in the lunchroom, and in other spots that trouble could erupt, joking with the kids and each other, CBS News reported.
Students seemed to like having Dads on Duty in the hallways.
“I immediately felt a form of safety,” one student told CBS News. “We stopped fighting. People started going to class.”
Another student explained why students’ behavior changed so drastically, and suddenly, with the appearance of the dads in the hallways.
“You ever heard of ‘a look?'” she asked and described the “power” all dads have over kids, CBS News reported.
The students told stories about the dads teasing and joking with them in between classes.
The dads said sometimes the kids act mortified to be singled out by the dads.
“They hate it! They’re so embarrassed by it,” LaFitte laughed.
The group of fathers are planning to continue their rotating patrols at the high school indefinitely, CBS News reported.
“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,” LaFitte said.
The group would like to start Dads on Duty chapters across Louisiana, or maybe even nationwide, CBS News reported.
Southwood High School Principal Kim Pendleton said her students loved having the dads on campus, KTBS reported.
Pendleton said that many of the students known the dads from church or their neighborhoods, and said she hoped even more parents would get involved in the program.