SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Violence at a Louisiana high school has stopped since a group of fathers started patrolling the campus, and the dads are aiming to expand their initiative into a movement across the parish.
“Dads on Duty” started in response to a series of fights at Shreveport’s Southwood High School in September that led to the arrests of about two dozen students, The Times reported.
Michael LaFitte gathered other parents after a Sept. 17 incident to form a strategy for combatting violence at the school. Expected to meet for 45 minutes that weekend, the group solidified a plan four hours later.
“At the end of the meeting there was a group of fathers who decided to just go to the school and patrol and walk around and show a strong male presence on the campus,” LaFitte told the newspaper.
“I don’t care how old you are or what size you are, 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.”
On the Monday after the meeting, a group of fathers showed up before the 7:30 a.m. bell to usher students inside. Dads have been there every morning since, with about 40 of them taking shifts to now also patrol during lunch and after school.
They’ve tried to assume the roles of “cool uncles” to the students, according to LaFitte. He said there have not been any fights on campus since they started.
“This is one of the most effective mentoring programs that I have seen up close and personal,” Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins said. “We would like to help you all see this vision through expanding this program, not just here in Caddo Parish, but giving a strong foundation to expand all over the country.”
The group is working with the superintendent and the sheriff’s office to achieve its goal of finding fathers to cover every school in Caddo Parish by the end of the school year.
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