The father of the Mashpee High School boy who got into a scuffle with a substitute teacher last month has filed charges of assault and battery. Although he did not know what conclusions the police drew from the altercation, he was angry that no charges were filed against the teacher. Apparently his son’s version of events was enough for him to go on.
It is all parents’ instincts to support their children, to come to their rescue when they are in trouble and to keep them out of harm’s way. It starts at birth and it runs deep.
It is always the right instinct when children are small and utterly dependent on their mothers and fathers. When they are 16, as this high school student is, they need less protection and should begin to take responsibility for themselves.
In this case, the young man did not act responsibly, not at all. The Mashpee police school resource officers investigated the incident thoroughly and concluded that the young man precipitated it, was offensively rude and even hostile to the point of being threatening. His behavior was reprehensible.
The police also concluded that there was physical contact between the student and teacher, but in a clear and well-thought-out letter to superintendent Brian Hyde, Chief Rodney Collins pointed out that the student could have avoided contact with the teacher.
We would have pointed out that the teacher could also have avoided contact, but as disciplinarian and head of the classroom, he no doubt felt a great deal of pressure to not appear as though he were walking away from the situation.
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The father, by filing charges, is not protecting his son, as much as his emotions are telling him he is. He is only sending the message to the young man that his actions were excusable and even permissible. It is a terrible message and instead of protecting the young man, his father’s actions actually threaten to send the boy down the road to more trouble.