School Fights Worry School Resource Officers

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SAL-girl-fightCharges have been filed against three girls involved in a bathroom fight that killed a 16-year-old Delaware girl. One girl is being charged with criminally negligent homicide, and the other two are facing criminal conspiracy charges in the death of 16-year-old Amy Inita Joyner-Francis. Crimes like these are becoming a trend across the nation, and the charges come right on the heels of a fight that happened at Dunbar Park in Greenville. In that incident, a mother faces charges of criminal endangerment of a child after taking her daughter to the fight and standing by to watch. The fights, both local and national, are making police even more vigilant in schools.

SAL SCHOOLFIGHTS PICSchool Resource Officer Malcolm Owens has seen his fair share of teens fighting. Owens has been the Greenville High School SRO for almost 16 years. He treats all of the students like they are his own children.

“When that child goes home at the end of the day, that he or she knows that I have their best interest in mind. Just like a real parent,” he says.

Owens does all he can to keep his kids out of trouble, but there is only so much one resource officer can do when he is up against almost 700 students.

“In Greenville, we’re not perfect,” he admits. “But there are measures in place, and if kids will talk, if parents will talk, if anyone with any information would just talk, and give us a chance to fix it, then we have a better attempt at preventing violence.”

The national fights drawing such hefty charges brings up a serious debate on how to punish the students. Even if they are minors, the punishment must fit the crime. A student caught fighting in school cannot just be handed a detention slip, and it seems like the officers in Greenville are not going to let that happen.

“People start fighting, somebody gets injured, somebody gets killed, and then there’s a jail sentence,” says Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram.

In some cases, even those watching the fight or videotaping it for social media can be charged if there are serious injuries. While that may not be the case in Greenville just yet, Ingram does not think it is worth the risk. Most of the fights he sees, he says, start over social media comments.

“And you’ve got… You’ve got two families whose lives are ruined because of something silly that was said on social media,” he adds.

Owens hopes he will never have to deal with a fight as serious as the case in Delaware. He wants his kids to know, there is always a better way to solve conflict.

“We’re dealing with someone whose child won’t be coming home,” he says of the family in Delaware. “And to lose a child, that’s devastating. But to lose a child in that manner, is even more devastating.”

SAL SCHOOLFIGHTS PIC2Owens and other School Resource Officers are put in schools to ensure children have a safe learning environment. He says that if any student is having issues with a classmate or feels threatened in any way, the SRO officers are always there to help.

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