Tennessee student self-defense bill draws mixed reviews
OBION COUNTY, Tenn. - Any student involved in a fight, whether they started it or not, gets in trouble in some Tennessee school districts. Now, some lawmakers are working to change that.
They're proposing what's called the Student Self-defense Bill. It basically says that students have the right to physically stand up for themselves. Also, any student can step in and defend someone else without getting in trouble. People in favor of the bill say it's common sense, but those against it say fighting, no matter what, is never the answer.
Senator Reginald Tate and Representative Terry Lynn Weaver are now sponsoring Senate Bill 113 - House Bill 860. It would eliminate the notion of zero tolerance, and it's a guideline already in play at Obion and Weakley County schools. Obion County Director of Schools David Huss said, "Absolutely it's working for us."
Huss said the principals at the high schools in Obion County think it's fair. "We will investigate, look at cameras, and get testimony from other students who witnessed the fight. If it's determined that one was practicing self-defense, then that student is not punished," he said.
Taking the issue to the playground revealed mixed reviews. Mother and grandmother Kay Dickson said, "I don't think hitting is ever the right answer." Winston Donahue is a father of two. He said, "I mean if somebody is pushing you and shoving you and won't let alone, you have to defend yourself. That's the bottom line."
Terry Bowers is a teacher and works at a private school for girls in state custody where they have a zero tolerance policy. Bowers said implementing the bill would be tricky. "Its he said-she said, you know. He started it, and they said something to me, and you don't know who threw the first punch."
Lawmakers will have the chance to hear the bill for the first time on Wednesday afternoon when it goes to the Senate Education Committee.