Comments about ‘Hundreds walk out of class to rally for football coach charged with child abuse’

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Published: Monday, March 21 2011 10:00 a.m. MDT

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West Valley, UT

I hope every single one of these students is disciplined. Under the laws dictating formation and operation of public schools the rights of Freedom of Expression and Freedom to Assemble are NOT granted to students on school grounds during school hours.

Farmington, UT

This is a very impressive show of support and solidarity among the students at Wasatch, especially the eye-witnesses to the alleged "abuse!" I'm in awe.

Beverly Hills, CA

This show of support really won't change a thing. It is up to the UEA and this teacher's lawyers to protect him. The students can do more to make sure to tell their parents not to reduce teachers and the teacher union's rights.

bleeding purple
Santa Ana, CA

DeltaFoxtrot - I really hope you are being sarcastic! Why do we always let the instigator triumph and punish the one who is trying to set a situation right? Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

Stockton, UT

From what has been reported here (and we should always take that with a grain of salt), it sounds like the charges are improper on at least two fronts.

First of all, a teacher should be allowed to maintain discipline in his classroom. If that requires some minimal amount of physical contact or force, so be it. Schools had a lot fewer problems when teachers were allowed to use a paddle. In the absence of any real injury inflicted on the student, for a teacher to put a 17 year old male student against a wall while explaining the facts of life should not be considered criminal.

Secondly, if there is a crime, "child abuse" sounds like the wrong charge. I should think simple assault is far more appropriate than anything involving "abuse."

I think allowing teachers to maintain discipline in the classroom is FAR more important and will do far more to improve both working conditions and education for all students than will pay raises, better benefits, etc.

SLC gal
Salt Lake City, UT

GO KIDS!!!!!! I hope these students see a very positive outcome from thier walkout.

When I was in 6th grade, I had a teacher who would literally kick students in the rear, and no one batted an eye (and this was in the days after corporal punishment in classrooms was frowned upon).

I wouldn't have handled the situation the same way that teacher did, but the fact that it caused the teacher to be terminated is just ridiculous.

Salt Lake City, UT

A lot of students stood up for Pratt, too. Remember him?

Clearfield, UT

When I was in school this kind of treatment toward a disruptive student was NOT considered to be "child abuse". It was called getting the students attention and controlling the class. I recall a teacher taking a disruptive student by the shirt collar and pushing him up against the wall and warning him to cease his behavior or be sent to the principal's office. Being sent to the principals for further disciplinary action was called corporal punishment which involved pain, not designed to cause injury....usually with a spanking board. While I don't condone child abuse....I do think the constraints placed on teachers to be able control their class rooms has tied their hands which has lead to students to use it to their own advantage. In this case the teacher/coach may have lost control of his frustration with this student somewhat, but child abuse...it isn't! What next....the parents suing the school or coach/teacher?

Salt Lake City, UT

Probably 99% of these kids have nothing to do with football, don't know the coach, and don't care. All they see is a chance to get out of class. Some will make fools of themselves to the TV cameras, and the rest will wander off to the nearest 7-11.

Layton, UT

Pratt's situation is entirely different. HE was the disruptive influence. Not his victim.
Personally, I think more students need to meet "The Board of Education"in the Vice-Principals Office, while in Junior High and High School. Too many "think" they can behave in any manner they choose with few if any real consequences for their actions.(suspension isn't a consequence to a disruptive little jerk)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a teacher maintaining respect from a student, and it's sounding more and more like this teacher needed to engage the student exactly as he did. sometimes, Mommy and Daddy, your little angel is anything but, and needs a course correction, since most parents now are too afraid of their children to teach them respect for others in the first place.Political correctness is moral cowardice.

Y Ask Y
Provo, UT

Kids will sometimes be "unruly". That is no excuse for an adult to violate the law. Violence is not the answer. Short of self-defense, this coach had no business being violent with this student.

If this coach lacked enough training and self-control that he couldn't be the adult, and behave professionally, then he does not deserve to be a coach or a teacher.

If the coach does not take personal responsibility for his bad behavior, and pay the price, suffer the consequences, then he is not the man of character and integrity everyone is claiming him to be. And he is setting a horrible example for the students he claims to be trying to teach.

Coach, I call on you to take responsibility for your actions. Don't try to minimize what you have done, or blame your actions on this "kid", or excuse yourself.

Practice what you preach and take responsibility.

West Valley, UT

It doesn't matter whether or not the students think it was justified or not. rules created for student protection specifically forbid teachers touching students in that manner. By walking out in protest the students are just breaking more rules, the ones governing attendance.

The Rule of Law protects the good people as well as the bad. Mr. North will have his day in court before a jury of his peers. They will determine whether his actions constituted abuse or not.

I am all for corporal punishment of children. However, over the years parents and child advocacy groups have successfully campaigned against it. So now we have rules against it. Mr. North knew his actions were forbidden and will be punished for them. If you don't like that, go start a committee to return corporal punishment to schools.

Hoops Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

M&Ms, I don't think you understand the dynamics of a school in such a small community. Not only do most of the students know this coach, odds are they've taken a class from him at some point. He doesn't just coach football--he also coached girls' basketball. He teaches PE, and Drivers' Ed. And, there's even a strong possibility that some of the students' parents were also taught/coached by this man. While it may be that some students joined in as an excuse to get out of class, the majority of these students know Coach North, respect him, and want to demonstrate their support.

Spanish Fork, UT

It looks like to me that the only child abuse is in this kids home where he is not being taught proper social skills and the importance of respect.

South Jordan, UT

This situation highlights a lot of what is wrong in America today. The pendulum has swung too far.

Children by nature are testing limits. They need to be shown societal limits, yet it is politically correct to let them get away with just about anything. Having not been an eye-witness to this event, all I can go on is the reports. The reports tell me that this child was WAY out of line, and needed to be put in his place. It sounds like the teacher did that effectively, and that the student was not injured.

This type of discipline by a teacher should be:

1) Allowed by law
2) Encouraged
3) Supported
4) Emulated

Our society will be much better if students learn to respect authority at an early age rather than to rebel against it at every turn.

Murray, UT

Case law is against the teacher on this one. To physically punish a student (and a shove against the wall is considered physical punishment) will cost him his job and career. And it is considered child abuse because the victim (however loud-mouthed and obnoxious) was under age. As a teacher I can understand his frustration but I can't condone his behavior. The teacher was out of line. The students who marched out in his support need to be taught about the law and how the law protects the student in this case. They may not like the law but it is the law and no amount of marching and protesting can change it.

I was kicked by one of my teachers when I was in high school. He got frustrated at the class and tried to throw a desk from the front row against the blackboard (like he usually did when he was mad) but this time my foot was in the book holder under the desk. I couldn't get it out in time and he kicked me. He was a beloved teacher but was also fired after that incident.

Oxon Hill, MD

@Y Ask Y - I don't know that I would make such a bold call for responsibility when all you know of the situation is the paragraph in the newspaper. Perhaps the fact that the entire community is outraged at the treatment of Mr. North would be a clue that he may not be a reckless jerk, after all...Maybe the parents of the child could take responsibility for their child's insolent behavior? Or maybe even the child himself...

@DeltaFoxtrot - the rule of law protects good people...after their reputation has been trampled, their credibility ruined, and they've developed ulcers worrying about their future. And what is the consequence to someone who falsely accuses?

This whole ridiculous situation has me so hopping mad that if my kids were at the high school, I would tell them to walk out, and join them myself!

Kyle loves BYU/Jazz
Provo, UT

Those who were there and know him best obviously believe he was mistreated. Good for them for standing up and making their voices be heard.

Suggesting this is similar to those supporting the seminary teacher is absurd. In this case many students were witnesses and know exactly what happened. They are eye witnesses not character witnesses.

Pa. Reader
Harrisburg, PA

These students have the courage to speak out even if it means being punished for breaking attendance rules. They seem to understand, better than their critics on this board, the inappropriate response by adults to the actions of this teacher. Whatever the teacher did, by all accounts it was clearly not child abuse, except in a world where letter of the law enforcement trumps common sense and decency. Since this is not a "hands on" school, teachers must be held accountable when they break the rules. But criminalizing this incident is a major overreach. The students who demonstrated will likely face some form of punishment, but they obviously understand that standing up for principle and defending a friend is more important than remaining silent in the face of injustice. Wrongs committed by those in authority are seldom made right without acts of civil disobedience. Good for the kids!

Bountiful, UT

So all these students that are misbehaving by walking out of class, I assume they would be fine with a teacher coming out and shoving them all into a wall as a response to their behavior?

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