Rage in High Schools: Should we tolerate it?

I feel so lucky that I am writing for a local newspaper.  I never tire of the interesting people I meet.  Everyone has an interesting story.  Everyone has a history.

Last month Camille Paddock gifted me with her poise and grace.  She took a painful experience and propelled it into a national, perhaps international, anti-bullying campaign.  This month, Camille visited the a local school.  Some parents choked back tears as they described the bullying their children endured.  Yesterday, Beanie dropped the DVD of Camille’s speech at the local high school.

A high school football player, K, slammed his locker shut with such force that he nearly severed the finger of my grandson, B, whose locker is next to K’s. (K was angry that he left his own shorts outside.) B’s injury is such that he is “out for the season,” cannot go to his part-time job, which requires the use of both of his hands, and is out of school for at least a week. The injury required a trip to the emergency room, X-rays, stitches, and a bug-eyed Doctor’s recommendation to see a specialist. The cut exposed tendon, vessels, and nerves. One bone broke, and B has nerve damage. Although it’s too soon to tell regarding the nerve damage, the prognosis is good for a full recovery is good. I have a picture, but they make me a little squeamish, so save it until the end for the strong of heart. Here’s a picture of Halloween hotdogs instead.  If you really want to see the gory details, scroll down past “Related Articles.”

I have a picture of B's finger, but it's too awful to show.  This is just a hotdog made to look like a finger.
I have a picture of B’s finger, but it’s too awful to show. This is just a hotdog made to look like a finger.

Was this bullying?  Perhaps.  How do fits of rage fit into this picture?

After hours of searching the school’s website, e-mails to the superintendent and the social worker, and unreturned voice-mails to the same,  I found this in the District Policies:

The District will not tolerate harassing, intimidating conduct, or bullying whether verbal, physical, or visual, that affects the tangible benefits of education,that unreasonably interferes with a student’s educational performance, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.

Examples of prohibited conduct include name-calling, using derogatory slurs, stalking, causing psychological harm, threatening or causing physical harm, threatened or actual destruction of property, or wearing or possessing items depicting or implying hatred or prejudice of one of the characteristics stated above

K did not threaten B, but he did cause physical harm.

Was this against the athletic code of conduct?  Maybe.  Here’s what the school has to say about that:

The violations and infractions for each of these codes will be as indicated in this document. An individual participating in an extra-curricular activity will face disciplinary consequences for violating each code.

-Possession, consumption or sale of alcohol, harmful or illegal drugs, look alike drugs, and/oranabolic-androgenic steroids

-Use or possession of any form of tobacco

-Major unsportsmanlike conduct [my emphasis]

-Attendance at activities involving the illegal consumption of alcohol or any illegal substance. …

-Commission of a criminal act defined as a Felony.

-Any level IV (as listed below)

-Level IV offenses are very serious acts. Many of these actions will involve the police. Level IV violations include but are not limited to the following:

Continuation of Level III offense (as listed in student handbook)


Possession of a weapon

Threats involving the safety of students or staff (Bomb threats, etc.)

Setting off false fire alarm

The handbook goes on to indicate that a first offense warrants “benching” the athlete for 22% of the season.

K issued no threats.  He carried no weapon.  He was not fighting. He was not under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol.

K injured B in a physical outburst of rage.

Here are some of the comments I received from Facebook:

Parallel to the current controversies in NFL? I think so. I’ve not heard one comment in the media about the violence factor that’s brewed within, encouraged and celebrated in football. He’s grooming to grow up and take it out on some woman, child, etc. Good for you/his family for not letting this pass. It should not.
I have to wonder if K was/is on steroids. If he has frequent spasms of anger, ‘roid rage may be responsible, and there were rumors several of the kids at my son’s school were on them, who bulked up for football awfully fast for it to be natural. If it’s NOT roids, I would wonder what’s going on in K’s home life – does he have an abusive parent, or…? While my deepest pity is for your grandson, I am also feeling it for K – what is going on with this kid in a man’s body? September 22 at 8:27pm · Like · 1
Our young men need all the good guidance and sometimes tough love they can get. Maybe the experiences I speak of are an anomaly, and the area they happened in is well known for putting high school football on a large pedestal. What’s sad is that in these particular incidents, non-athlete female students paid a price they will pay for the rest of their lives, while the athlete(s) went on to even more heinous behavior, which finally destroyed their futures. If they would have had caring coaches like your son everyone would have been spared.
A family member went through something similar years ago and ended up suing the school and child (High School) due to no action. I know in their case it was decided in my family members favor but no other experience other than that. It was actually before my time as it was an in law.
If I had an unfortunate accident with my car, it would not be dismissed. If I had an unfortunate accident with a firearm I would be held responsible. I do think you should all count the cost, including the social cost (and peer pressure to be perceived as the one that benched a football player). But nerve injuries are serious business and he likely will reflect on how this was handled over the years whenever his finger feels “tingly”. I don’t envy your position. But the path of least resistance should not be taken. Even if you do nothing, knowing what your options were will be empowering in a frustratingly unfair situation!

September 19 at 3:28am · Edited · like · 2Unfortunately, your grandson may not want anyone to take action in the school. The wrath of the the others if he gets k suspended may be more than he can handle right now
September 18 at 9:57pm · Like · 1I would calmly and rationally file a police report, demand the kid be suspended until he was evaluated by a counselor and I would expect a call from the school board president. Your grandson had to have stitches, I find no excuse acceptable for that behavior. The guy that murdered my brother had rage like this as a kid and everyone just kept chalking it up to ‘he’s a boy’ ‘he will outgrow it’ and excuse after excuse. This kids parents need a wake up call. I hope your grandson heals and isn’t in too much pain.September 18 at 5:44pm like 10Seriously, when a school is more interested in CYA than in its safety and protection of students, then things like this will continue to happen. I am not a litigious person, but in this case, you bet. B will have life altering, permanent issues for a long time to come. And K? What are his consequences? He’s sorry? Then put traction to those words and make it right.September 18 at 6:22pm · like · 4

 What is your experience with school policy?  Should the school tolerate fits of rage?  If so, only if it results in injury, or property damage?  Is a fit of rage intimidating, therefore under the bullying policy?  What type of discipline, if any, should be meted out?