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The Monarch Times

Teacher Intervention: Fight or Flight

Mt.+Eden+Campus+Security+Officers%3A+Donte+Sanders%2C+Jessica+Garcia%2C+Pamela+Miller%2C+Christopher+Murray%2C+Ray+Leon%2C+Amir+Jalil%2C+and+Albert+Booth.+Not+pictured%3A+Haukinima+%E2%80%9CNima%E2%80%9D+Faanunu.
Kaylyn Nguyen
Mt. Eden Campus Security Officers: Donte Sanders, Jessica Garcia, Pamela Miller, Christopher Murray, Ray Leon, Amir Jalil, and Albert Booth. Not pictured: Haukinima “Nima” Faanunu.

On two days in early October, violent fights occurred in front of J Hall. In both fights, teacher Dan Mai felt he had to intervene. The first one on October 2nd was an altercation between six students against one. The second on October 9th was a clash between two students. Both fights were physically halted. 

“The biggest issue is liability. […] When it was six on one… that kid [could have] broken his neck. […] Those kids don’t realize how the judicial systems will treat them,” said Mai. Common consequences for student-on-student fights range from suspension, expulsion, or transfer to another school or district. Additional criminal charges are possible depending on the circumstances. 

Although Mr. Mai decided to intervene in the fights, two of his coworkers believe he—and all teachers—should not have to. Jeff Huang, a teacher at Mt. Eden for 13 years, and Kelly Serrano, a teacher at Mt. Eden for 34 years, shared similar feelings regarding teachers getting in between fights. 

“My first year, 2010, there was a fight every day except Wednesday,” said Huang about the week before spring break. When asked about the change in school fights, Serrano noted that fights were more common in the 1990s. “Students would often intervene, so the kids’ friends would try to break the fight up so they didn’t get suspended,” she said.

Assistant Principal Terrence Christianson expressed his appreciation and concern for teachers and staff intervening in fights that could put them at risk. He does not support the idea of staff members or students having to get in between fights due to safety. Instead, he prefers they alert the security on campus since they know how to handle the situation best. 

Campus safety officer (CSO) Haukinima “Nima” Faanunu remembers when he had to intervene in three fights during one lunch hour and his “teeth got knocked out.” According to Nima, teachers and CSOs do not receive proper training in intervening in fights. They risk their safety for their students. Faanunu feels that even though they are staff members, teachers, administration, and CSOs still care about the kids and their safety. The National School Safety and Security Services recommends that “all school staff should be able to assist in responding to school fights in one manner or another.”

Faanunu stresses how important it is to intervene in a fight even if it is not physical: “Sometimes these kids don’t have safe places at home. […] They just need somebody to talk to.” He feels that a trusted person can convince students with words instead of actions. Counselors, he argues, can help students avoid or settle a conflict. 

Another resource on campus is peer mentoring. This class offers conflict mediation, where trained student mentors help students resolve conflict —before, during, and after anything happens—without anyone getting in trouble. Peer assistance mentors Anne Dominique Carranceja, Ava Huynh, and Sandra Garcia expressed that when seeing students intervene, it can be hard to tell who is the aggressor. “My friend tried to intervene in a fight because it was their friends who were doing it,” said Garcia. “The students intervening is… unnecessary unless they… know them,” Huynh mentions.

Fights can involve one or more main issue(s), but the support of counselors, peer mentors, and even other staff members could prevent a physical altercation before it occurs. Even during a fight, witnesses can contact support to safely intervene.  In some cases, on instinct, teachers, such as Mai will step in to protect the campus.

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About the Contributors
Layla Black, Graphics Editor
Hey, I am Layla Black, a reporter and the Photo & Graphics Editor for The Monarch Times for the 2023-24 school year. This is my second year working for The Monarch Times, learning the beginnings of the journalism process, in a professional manner. I have lived in California for my entire life, moving several times within the Bay Area, now living in Hayward. I enjoy reading, photography, and sports.
Kaylyn Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief
Hi! I’m Kaylyn Nguyen, founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Monarch Times. I started The Monarch Times to provide a source of information for students and bring the Mt. Eden and Hayward community closer together. Outside of writing, I’m involved in various clubs and enjoy photography, reading, and playing video games. Please look forward to more content from The Monarch Times for years to come!  
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