It doesn't happen very often, but every couple of years I happen to be not only present when a fight breaks out, but close enough to the epicenter where I have time to take action before it is all over. This time, I was doing bus duty yesterday afternoon. The buses were all lined up on the blacktop behind the school and I was in the process of shepherding the students toward their respective lines. I happened to look to my right and saw two male students walking toward each other across the blacktop, their respective entourage and onlookers in tow behind them.
I and another male teacher began quickly moving in the direction of the impending ruckus, but I was still about 15 or 20 feet away when the fists between the two boys started flying. It was at this point that I froze for a split second as I assessed the situation. I took stock of the size of the two combatants, their level of violence, and the mood of the crowd surrounding them. During that split second of decision-making that I endure every couple years, I wonder to myself whether I should just stand there and let these two bozos beat each other black and blue, or should I risk my own health by getting in between the two combatants, flying fists and all.
In the end, I cannot in good conscience let two boys beat the hell out of each other while I stand there and watch, so I waited for them to momentarily disengage to spar a bit, and in that split second where there was space in between them, I pounced. It just so happened that the other male teacher who had descended upon the scene made his decision to intervene at the very moment I did. I ran in between the two boys and grabbed the one who was facing me. I clotheslined my right arm around his chest and let my forward momentum take him away from the fight. I then twisted my body so that I was directly behind him, and then I put both my arms around him, pinning his arms against his sides. The boy continued to lunge toward his nemesis, who had been similarly restrained by the other teacher. As I held on to this struggling boy for dear life, I could feel his heart beating a mile a minute. As he yelled at me to let go of him, I yelled back, "Are you going to try and fight him again? I won't let go until you promise not to continue this!"
He finally relented and I escorted him to the office. After I deposited him outside the VP's office door, that is when I noticed that something was amiss. I ran my tongue against the inside of my bottom lip and could feel a fresh contusion from which seeped the coppery taste of blood.
Sometime during the melee', when I had thrust myself between the two combatants, I had been hit in the mouth by a glancing blow from one of them; probably a forearm, probably from the boy I had ended up restraining.
I have been injured one other time while breaking up a fight. It was about five years ago, and of all things, it was between two girls. I stepped in between them, thinking that would stop it cold. Nuh uh. They simply began reaching around me to continue punching each other. They finally grappled, with me still in between them, and all three of us ended up hurtling toward the pavement. My right knee was the first thing to impact the ground. The two girls got up and began chasing each other while punching at the same time. I got up to pursue, but fell right back to ground with my injured knee. That was definitely the worse of two injuries I have now received breaking up fights, but it is still enough to give me pause before getting between two aggressive, irrational, flailing students.
However, standing by and doing nothing does not sit well with me either. Quite a dilemma.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson