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The answer to school violence begins at home
TJS Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough, Guest Columnist

The new three R’s of School Days: Rancor. Rants. Retaliation. And forget the hickory stick. We’re not singing that tune anymore. In Clayton County alone, the school system reports that fights are up some 200 percent over the same period last year, and we are only one month into the new school year. The district had already banned book bags and lockers because of an increase in weapons on school premises.

A report by the Atlanta newspapers revealed that during the last academic year, Clayton County school officials confiscated nearly 100 weapons, including – are you ready? – an AR-15 assault rifle. It is this environment in which beleaguered schoolteachers are trying to force-feed some education into their students while worrying about guns.

So, what to do? School principals in Clayton County have asked School Superintendent Morcease Beasley to go public and appeal for help from – are you ready, again? – parents. Uh, wild thought here, but parents just might be a part of the problem.

“Darling? Are you ready for school?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“I have packed your lunch and put in a couple of ginger snaps.  I know how you love ginger snaps.”

“Thanks, Mom. I’m running late. See you tonight. Bye.”

“Young man, you come right back here! You were about to walk out without your AR-15 and stripper clip! You kids! You can be so absent-minded! What in the world would you do without your Momma to look after you!”

Supt. Beasley went on YouTube and observed, “Let’s all as adults model the behavior we expect our children to exhibit. We must be parents. We must be the role model. We need you to talk with the staff, not at the staff.”  Sorry, sir, but that train has left the station. Children are the way they are because their parents – if they are even around – are the way they are.

And it is not just Clayton County where parents as role models leave much to be desired. Last fall, Cobb County parents squared off against each other in competing demonstrations over whether their urchins should be required to wear masks in class.

Parents chanted and waved signs at each other. At one point, two of them -- a masked man (not the Lone Ranger) and an unmasked woman -- got into a screaming confrontation. The woman accused the masked man of spitting on her. (Through his mask?) The masked man accused the woman of hitting him in the mouth. What great role models they are. I can’t wait to see how their kids turn out.

Public education is under attack these days. Who wants to send their kids into a war zone? Republican legislators have made it easy to walk away from these problems with their nefarious tax-credit voucher schemes that encourage sending kids to private schools instead of working to fix the issues our teachers face in the classroom. It is almost as if they want public schools to fail.

I will admit to a bit of bias. I have three public schoolteachers in my family.  My son-in-law, a PhD/science teacher/coach and former State Teacher of the year recently retired. My grandson, also a PhD/science teacher/coach, and my son, a science teacher with a Master’s degree, are still at it, despite the bureaucratic red tape, second-guessing, societal issues not of their making, and parental apathy. I am proud of them all.

I, too, am a product of public schools, and while I would never have been mistaken for Albert Einstein, I got a good education for which I thank my teachers and my parents who were denied educational opportunities while growing up in the rural South and didn’t want that to happen to my brother and me.

I also had my share of fights growing up and a checkered won-lost record. But in every case when it was over, it was over. We were friends again. Today, fights are being filmed and shown on social media, and the violence is shocking and definitely not friendly. According to the Georgia Department of Education, there were more than 56,000 “incidents” last school year in our public schools in 2021-2022 school year with a number of arrests.

To those looking for some deep-meaning root cause as to what is causing the three R’s of violence in our public schools these days, much of it could be avoided if there was some discipline in the home. It starts there. In other words, it’s the parents, stupid. Or to put it another way – it’s stupid parents.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; or on Facebook at