Teachers Laying Hands on Students?

Alyssa Matthewson, Staff Writer

This question about teachers being able to lay hands on students came about when a video of a Los Angeles high school student yelling racial slurs and even throwing a basketball at his music teacher – which resulted in the teacher punching the student in the face – came about. This all occurred after the student was asked to leave the room, because he wasn’t dressed in the correct uniform. The video went viral after a student recorded it and posted it onto social media. As a result, the teacher was jailed for suspected child abuse, and the student was taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Many were against the teacher’s actions and thought it was unnecessary for him to react that way toward the student. This event sparked many debates over what the right thing to do in a situation like this would be.

We forget that teachers are still people and they have lives – and feelings – too. From what I’ve noticed at school, students sometimes think it’s funny to disrespect teachers because it makes them look cool,  but there is absolutely nothing funny in that at all. I feel like this is exactly what the student was doing. To me, it seemed the student overreacted and brought this upon himself. He was only asked to leave the class because he was wearing the incorrect band uniform, and we don’t even know the full story. Maybe he was asked to leave to change into the correct uniform, to match the rest of the students. He probably felt that he couldn’t back out of it since he had already gone so far – like when he threw the basketball. It was unnecessary and was nowhere near respectful. That is not how you treat a teacher when they give you an order. He isn’t in control of his teacher. All of this could’ve been avoided if he had followed the directions he was given.

Many people were disturbed by the video and thought violence wasn’t the solution to the problem, and I agree that there are other ways the teacher could have handled the situation, but in the heat of the moment, he probably didn’t see another way. He obviously couldn’t take the racial slurs that were being yelled at him anymore, and I’m sure nobody would want to deal with this. The sad thing is, if they were to have no correlation/relationship with each other, or were away from school grounds, this would have been seen as the right thing to do and he would most likely not have been sent to jail. Yes, it’s against the rules for a teacher to lay hands on a student, but in situations like this, should it be? I believe what he did was right, it’s what the student deserved. The kid was being very disrespectful towards his teacher and had no right to do so. I feel there’s a time and place where a teacher should be allowed to react with self-defense. I’m sure he didn’t want to hit the student and was probably restricting himself from doing it right away, at least that’s what it seems like in the video. His students described him as a very nice man who always had great relationships with his students. He was clearly pushed to his full extent and couldn’t hold his anger in any longer.

There have been many other cases just like this. A math teacher from Ozen High School was arrested for hitting her student at least five times. She was caught swiping the student’s papers off of her desk and smacking her in the face. What started the fight wasn’t clear, since the video didn’t show much of the situation. The only information released about it is that the student asked for a grade. She was described as a cool, laid-back teacher. A former student said, “if they spent more time teaching than harassing students on simple things that don’t matter, the school would be great.” But, we also don’t know exactly what caused this argument, so we don’t know if the teacher was being disrespected. This ties into teachers having a place and time for certain things. In this story, it might be the teacher who was overreacting. There might’ve been a reason for her overreacting, like a personal problem, or her becoming fed up with her students.

Everybody has a right to defend themselves, even a teacher. And clearly, others agree with the fundraiser that has been created. The goal was to raise $50,000, and in less than a week, it raised over $100,000. With this, Riley has been released.