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Shannon Williams

Shannon Williams

It was a very disturbing 58 seconds.

I’m referring, of course, to the viral video released this week that shows a male student at Northwest High School first verbally confronting, then physically assaulting a female classmate. Things go from bad to worse around the 29-second point. He punches the girl, knocking her into a row of green lockers, then she falls to the ground, where he straddles her prone body and unmercifully punches her in the face and pulls her hair.

In addition the horrid physical attacks of the perpetrator in the video, even more disturbing was the way he viciously referred to her as a “bi*#h.” It was incredibly disturbing to witness – even from the safe confines of my office.

Even more disturbing, is that the video documents several other young men who passively stand by, failing to intervene in the girl’s beating. Only after a few girls mediated, does the brutality cease. The video also shows a male teacher near the altercation. The teacher repeatedly yells for the boy to stop, but he doesn’t physically intervene.

Are you upset about that? You need to understand that school protocol mandates that staff members should attempt to diffuse the situation verbally, then summon help from administration and school police.

Had the teacher put his hands on either student – even in an attempt to stop the violence— he would have been reprimanded and possibly fired.

While Northwest is part of the Indianapolis Public School (IPS) system, other school districts are not and have not been immune to similar encounters. As a matter of fact, violence is an issue across the board. Before you attempt to dismiss Tuesday’s altercation as solely an IPS issue, I’d encourage you to consider that violence occurs everywhere and student fights happen at school districts through the city, state and nation. The issue is less about where the encounter occurred and more about why it actually occurred in the first place.

I believe the issue begins with the parents. What lessons are parents teaching their children if that child feels it’s OK to physically attack another individual, or stand by while someone is beaten?

It’s even worse for a male student to brutally attack a young lady. The issues here are lack of parenting, a failure to instill reasonable conflict resolutions in children/teens, and an over-dramatization, if not glamorization of violence in society.

The violence we have seemingly grown accustomed to impacts us at all levels. Not just in schools and universities, but also in public places like movie theaters, demonstrations, and even religious institutions. Our culture in general is in trouble and we should all be concerned.

We have to do better—period. And that improvement must begin on the individual level. We have to individually strive to be better, educate others in a more informed manner, and individually hold others accountable.

The irony of the timing of the Northwest fight is during one recent newsroom meeting, we discussed how some media outlets zoom in on violence while ignoring positive news, as in the Baltimore coverage, which showed riots, rather than community meetings. The Recorder’s attempt to counter that is to detail some of the positive things members of the Baltimore and Indianapolis communities are doing to improve their cities.

This week’s attack at Northwest High and others similar to it in other areas doesn’t help our cause much. News is news. This attack can’t be blamed on media, it can only be blamed on the individuals. It was not the media, nor “the White man” who led that male student to attack his female classmate. He chose to do that, which is why we must be steadfast in our quest to improve our perspectives and actions. It’s time to be real: often the problems that plague our community is caused by us. Let’s take the necessary steps toward bringing positive change and peace. Let’s not just stand by and watch lives and spirits being destroyed.

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