Dads on Duty Help Out at Louisiana High School
A group of dads takes turns patrolling their kids’ high school, engaging with students, and fending off fights.
By: Keelin Ferris | November 26, 2021 | 405 Words
A groups of dads is helping out at Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The school struggled with student fights in September that left a total of 23 students in jail. The city was overwhelmed and unsure of how to reduce fighting. After a fight broke out on September 17, one of the school dads, Michael LaFitte, gathered some other parents to talk about how they could help end violence in the school.
Born out of “concern and love,” LaFitte created the group called “Dads on Duty.” The Southwood dad called a group of parents he knew were active at the school, and an expected 45-minute meeting lasted four hours and produced a plan.
They decided to send a group of fathers to the school to patrol and walk around and “show a strong male presence on campus,” LaFitte said in an interview with USA TODAY. He added that “it’s something about seeing a man, a positive male figure, a father, your daddy or whatever you want to call them, at the school. It will make you straighten up and fly right.”
A group of more than 40 dads started their mission at 7:30 a.m. before the first bell on September 20. Every single day since then, Dads on Duty have shown up in the morning to greet and engage with the students.
LaFitte stated they are trying to take on the appearance and style of being “cool uncles” to the students. The Dads have discovered that one of the biggest issues with high schoolers is not feeling like anyone is listening to them. They found that after listening to the students and respecting them, the kids are more willing to listen to their teachers. Since the arrival of Dads on Duty at Southwood, there have been no fights.
Mr. LaFitte said they talk to students about life skills, grooming and taking care of themselves, and self-respect. Wearing matching black T-Shirts with “Dads on Duty” printed across the front, the fathers balance their work schedules with the higher calling of being a parent. They switch off from other things while they are at the school in the morning, during lunch, and after school.
The Dads have gotten national attention and are hoping to expand across the country. Many are hopeful that mentor groups such as this one can help young people create a better life.