Drills and procedures are important as the point is to tell, suggest, advise, and recommend on what to do in the event a certain incident occurs, which would/should and hopefully produce the best possible outcome be it in a work or school environment or whatever the case may be.
However, if you survive through anything worth telling, you know that the way you practiced it in drill isn’t always the way it plays out. So, the question is, how often was/is the plan followed to a tee to ensure the safety of all involved when said event occurred?
Are we all old enough to remember the movie Set It Off; a 1996 American heist crime action film directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Kate Lanier and Takashi Bufford. The film stars Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise (in her film acting debut). It follows four close friends in Los Angeles, California, who plan to execute a bank robbery—each doing so for different reasons—to achieve better for themselves and their families.
Minus the middle details of the movie, it was the scripted line in the beginning made parallel to the scripted line near the end which stitches the question together of what’s the procedure.
Fox’s character is fired from her job as a bank teller for not following “procedure” during a bank robbery by which she had a gun pointed at her head (a procedure that was never discussed) and after she raised the issue of her termination behind the string of events, she retreats home to deal with the unfairness of the termination. The movie plays out and near the end she finds herself in a full circle moment, poetically standing in the vulnerable position, surrounded by law enforcement after being caught robbing a bank where she, the rabbit with the gun asks, “What’s the procedure when you have a ____ gun at your head” as she points it at the lead detective.
Switching gears down now to a much more relaxed and calmer situation yet one where I begged the same question where if a child is in school, who is involved in a fight after always begin told not to hit back and to go get a teacher and/or report when someone violates them instead of defending themselves. What if the child is choked by the other child and then placed in a chokehold after trying to get the student off them? What is a chokehold? It’s a tight grip around a person’s neck, used to restrain them by restricting their breathing. So, what’s the procedure? Do we not slightly deviate from the plan? Do we continue to be choked until help arrives? What is the contingency plan?
Using this scenario where a child is restricted obviously implies that their ability to go get anyone is impaired as they are held in a dangerous position which instinct to fight back will naturally begin to kick in. Would you consider this to be an escalation of the fight or a need for survival- and if both, shouldn’t the need to survive supersede the punishment of escalating a fight when enforcing a procedure to “go get someone” is activated where suspension of both students is determined?
We need to get away from this one size rule fits all because it simply doesn’t fit. One fight does not fit all. And unless we are talking about a movie scene, fights are not scripted. Sure, if one child hits another it would be an ideal situation for that child to not naturally fight back, inform a teacher and we all go home happy. But since there are situations where an aggressor will attack a student, producing the absolute need for that student to defend themselves until help arrives perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board on what the procedure should be and if the procedure can’t be changed, the punishment sure as heck should.
Principles should be assessed on their ability or lack thereof to determine proper and adequate punishment for the students involved in a fight when the stories are literally identical, identifying the severity of the situation levied by the true aggressor. Suspending both children for the same amount of time does nothing in the realm of teaching a lesson.
I am open to questions and comments on this… feel free to share comments on what you think should happen as well as if your child has been in a situation where the need to fight back in self defense has aroused in schools where they have been punished for defending themselves or most importantly, where they were told that “surviving” in a fight was equal to escalating a fight and warrants the same punishment.
P.S. I do not condone bullying.