January 31, 2023
Annapolis, US 36 F

Attention AACPS: Altercation Vs Assault

Yesterday, a sophomore at South River High School was beaten so badly that he was flown to Shock-Trauma in Baltimore for his injuries. This beating took place during school hours during a change in classes. Due to the late hour, the school was unable to send a note home with parents, but posted a memo on the school’s website (note, it is on the school’s page, not the main page of the school district).

Violence in schools is a problem and something needs to be done. Parents need to be involved in their childrens’ lives and not assume that someone else will be responsible for raising them. The attack yesterday, was completely preventable.  And yes, it was an attack.

The school has downplayed this incident significantly by using terms like”incident,” “altercation,” and “required medical assistance”. Maybe if the schools took a less politically correct approach, it might get the attention of some parents. Honestly, if you read a note about an “altercation” at school, as a parent do you pay much attention? How about one that said “two students were arrested for beating another student in the school to the point where his injuries were so sever that he was flown from the school to a specialized shock-trauma center which was equipped to treat the severity of his injuries.”  Do I have your attention now?

Here is the letter from the school’s principal:

October 6, 2010

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am writing to let you know about an incident that happened today at our school. While I regret that the timing of this incident allowed this letter to only be posted online and not to be distributed to students, I wanted to convey the information to you as quickly as possible.

At about 12:40 p.m., three students became involved in a physical altercation in the mathematics hallway during change of classes prior to fourth period. Because this occurred during a class change, a large number of students witnessed the incident. One of the involved students required medical assistance and was transported to the hospital.

Teachers near the scene of the fight immediately attempted to break it up, and our School Resource Officer also responded. The altercation was broken up fairly quickly, and to my knowledge at this point, no other students were involved. An additional officer was called to our school to assist in the investigation.

Two students have been charged by police, and our investigation is continuing. Appropriate actions will be taken with regard to those involved after the conclusion of the investigation.
I want to commend the other students in the hallway for cooperating with school staff as they worked to quell the situation. I encourage you to talk with your students about this incident, and about the steps they should follow in such circumstances.

The safety and security of our students and staff is of the utmost importance to all of us at South River High School. Thank you for everything you do for your children and for our school. If you have questions or concerns, please call the school at 410-956-5600.

William T. Myers


People have altercations every day without the need of a trip to the hospital for critical injuries.

This is an altercation:

This is an assault:

See the difference?

Parents and school administrators need to work together to solve this problem. There are violent fights almost every day in our county school and no one wants to address the issue head on. Apparently the “No Bullying” signs are not working.

Parents, wake up and make sure you are involved with your kids and know what they are up to. Be a parent! Let them know the consequences and enforce them!  Parents, are you concerned about this trend? Voice them! There is a number in the letter–call and let your voice be known.  Attend a School Board meeting and let the Board know your feelings. Take a stand!

Administrators, it is time to stop pussyfooting around this issue. It started with the elimination of the letter “F” in the grading system and “failure” is no longer an option. All of a sudden assaults, muggings, and beatings have been politically changed to “altercations”?  Call a spade a spade and be honest with the parents and guardians of the students under your charge.

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  1. Very salient point. Hard to call a two on one beating, with not a blow on the football players an ‘altercation’. The AACPS system’s practice of villainizing the victim in order to downplay the egregiousness of a crime is quite familiar to me.

  2. Student fights have been part of schools since schools existed. It it could have been prevented it would have been prevented.

  3. It wasn’t a fight. You are woefully misinformed if you think that it was an altercation at all. It was a robbery followed by a group beating. No fight ever happened…one kid stole the other’s ipod, the victim tried to take it back and was then beaten by the thief and his friend into unconsciousness and beyond.

  4. My son was bullied at a county school for 18 months. One morning he snapped and started a fight with the kid… a fight, not a beating. Because the kid had a black eye and a bloody lip and my son didnt my son got charged with assault. The other wasnt charged with anything. Assault, thats what these kids are being charged with yes? For a beating… Parents need to take responsibility for their kids this is disgusting.

  5. Clearly then it was avoidable in that the victim should have informed the police or administration. Nonetheless, it is nothing new in the history of schools, here or anywhere.

  6. if you run to police or administrators for everything then you either get bullied worse or beaten worse… kids arent afraid of administrators anymore they just dont want to be hassled by them

  7. Fred is playing the willful idiot. I don’t believe that he believes what he is saying. I guess we can apply his special brand of logic to all real life crimes as well. They are all preventable by going to the police? There is no sense in trying to prevent crimes because if they could be then they would be?

    Socrates you ain’t.

  8. Ok Captain Dudeman, asnswer me this. Is it not possibe that the fight ( beating, injury, assault, conflict) could have been avoided( mitigated) if the victim had reported the theft instead of trying to help himself? And can you agree it would have been avoidable if the child had not bought an iPod to school ? Discuss.

  9. Fred, I totally disagree. Say the victim just said “fine, take my ipod” and then went to the administration. Two things would happen. First he would have been beaten later for tattling and secondly he would be targeted again and again for not standing up for himself. Next time maybe they aren’t satisfied with just taking something. Instead they want to make a point. These guys are bullies and they are not to be reasoned with. This is a no win situation for the person whose ipod was taken. Isn’t this what led to the death of the student on Crofton two years ago?

  10. Thats exactly how it is too. My son went to administration twice and so did I. My son even got suspended from school because the bully sent him text messages during school hours and I was the one who showed the administrators! He was bullied worse and the administrators did nothing. After the fight I had to withdraw and transfer my son to another school so it didnt happen again since the administrators did nothing to help the situation in the first place.

  11. Oh well, such is life in the big city. Surely you don’t expect every child that is accused of being a bully to be removed from school ? And do you really think the school is supposed to supply a body guard to the complaining student. The school can only control so much my dear friends. and just because a child is allegedly bullied and it is reported the school has no real grounds to act do they ? Moreover, the thought that the school has any control or responsibility over what goes on outside of school is ludicrous.

    Therefore I stand by claim that the specific event we are discussing could have been avoided if the child had not brought iPod to school, or the child had reported the unauthorized use of the iPod to an adult capable of pursuing the matter.

  12. Agreed, but reality has a way of entering the picture. When my son was a freshman, he was approached about buying pot. He declined but was conflicted if he should have told the principal. Here is the conundrum. Play by the rules, report the event and have your ass kicked every day for the next four years. Skirt the rules a bit and let the doper know you are not interested and hopefully he tells his doper friends and story ends there.

  13. Fred is what is known as ‘a troll’. He’s making very strong statements based on very weak logic and expressing them in a condescending manner. I believe he is fully aware of what reality is but simply wants attention.

    Don’t bother feeding him. He’ll only give you knee-jerk bald assertions and ignore whatever experience to the contrary that you offer.

    Tell me this Fred: If the boy allowed his property to be stolen and simply went to report it, how would it be returned? It then becomes the word of a kid who is probably already a target against that of a football player who has friends as witnesses. Why don’t you post your address since we know that you’ll allow us to rob you while you wait for us to finish before calling the authorities?

  14. He did the same thing on hometown annapolis for a long time… just likes to ruffle feathers… maybe his parents didnt love him enough and he needs attention now, who knows.

  15. “Moreover, the thought that the school has any control or responsibility over what goes on outside of school is ludicrous.” -Fred Shubbie

    did i miss what happened outside school?

  16. Ok well, given the ad ad hominem nature of the last two comments I will excuse my self from this discussion.

  17. Folks, friends, anne arundelians, be civil for crying out loud. its a sticky issue, bullying. fred, ann, other monster icon people, you all have some good points. don’t let such strong feelings cloud what could possibly be a helpful discourse. posting suppositions about someone’s upbringing b/c he said administrators have limited ability to prevent violence? c’mon. that is true. their ability is limited. it is also true that snitching can bring violence, and it might also bring satisfaction. A principal could have said to jock aggressor kid “give the ipod back or no more football”. that could have ended it, or could have resulted in an entire football team pummeling the victim for the loss of their QB or whatever he played.

    there can’t possibly be a one approach fits all solution. each student, administration, and school ethic is different and ought to be considered.

    Final point: Fred is ABSOLUTELY correct about no ipods in school. there is simply no upside, and the occasional horrific downside like this, to having ipods in school. to all parents and concerned citizens of AACO, please do urge policymakers to impose a ban if there isn’t one already. just good sense.

  18. Ann, what happened after school was that a boy in Crofton who had been bullied and whose parents had received no real help from the administration and were forced to change schools to keep him safe was later killed by said bullies. Actually when I read your story about your son it was so similar as to be scary.

    Personally, I like Fred. The devil’s advocate is a tough role to play and he does it very well. Besides, he reads my column and I love anybody who does that.

  19. He’s not playing the devil’s advocate, which I agree is an important roll, and one I often fill. He is simply trying to start vitriolic arguments and once his intent and ignorance on the matter was revealed he fled. Good riddance.

  20. Ahhh… thank you Ann, I am actually familiar with the Christopher Jones tragedy I just somehow missed it being mentioned here. The difference with my son was that he was able to take care of himself he just wished he did not have to with violence. I have to give him credit though, he lasted 18 months prior to snapping. Unfortunately, and in most cases, kids dont know how to deal with it and obviously neither do the school officials.

  21. That is true but molly coddling these kids and their parents is not the answer. Parents need to be held accountable for their children’s behavior.

    I know that all kids do some things that we don’t know about as parents. But, we know the type of child we have raised and raising a child who would steal from another and then beat him because he isn’t cooperating is beyond the petty things most kids do.

    And one more thing. I think the complaint by the observer is really a big part of the problem. If we call parents and say “Your child was involved in an altercation.” To me that is the same as saying, “Little Johnny was a naughty boy today.” Instead the letter should have stated that two students attacked another student and beat him severely. The last thing I want to see is these boys being treated like victims in the same way as the rock throwing thugs in Severna Park.

  22. This is very true, parents do need to take responsibility and I agree with you whole heartedly. All too often we place blame on everyone but ourselves when ultimately it is OUR responsibility as parents to raise our kids. I think thats something that has been lost for quite some time, sadly.

  23. It was lost way back when the Columbine shootings too place. People then were too afraid of offending the parents of the shooters even after learning their were weapons in plain view in their rooms. If we can’t talk about something so obviously wrong as that then trying to get parents to take responsibility on less obvious issues is a much more difficult task.

  24. I understand the “don’t bring iPods to school” argument, but that doesn’t solve the problem. I graduated from an AACO HS 21 years and these problems existed back then. I only vaguely remember these incidents so I may have my facts wrong, but I remember two incidents. One student beaten and robbed for his Nike’s and second for a Gold chain. I believe one of those students died.

    The problem is our society is produce citizens (students included) with no respect for others or their property. That’s a problem an iPod can not solve.

    There should be a zero tolerance policy for stealing and assault (including sexual). Students committing those crimes should be immediately suspended, evaluated and entered into a more rigorous educational experience.

    However, knowing our society is becoming ever more politically correct and socialistic; parents and students need to be aware of the risk factors.

    One last thought. There other countries out there that have much more severe punishment for assault and robbery. These countries have been around much longer than ours. Perhaps they’ve learned something we should take notice of.

  25. Never worry my friends, from what I here and read once we all vote YES on Question A all of our problems will be solved. Safer Schools ? Vote yes on Question A ? Does that ring true ? I don’t think so.

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