By Noah Cagle
The WCHS Handbook for the year 2017-2018 states that students who find themselves in physical altercations may claim self defense in reasonable scenarios. The self defense clause is in place for good reason.
The idea that one should be able to defend themselves from physical harm is only natural and needs to be universally accepted. If someone were to defend themselves from a physical attack, the defender would then be able to use the self-defense laws to defend themselves against their charges. But if a defender is to use words to coax an attacker, that defender and the attacker should both be punished.
Nobody should be afraid to defend themselves from an immediate physical attack on themselves. Don’t get me wrong, people should always go to physical force as a last resort, and should also try to avoid fighting as much as possible. A self-defender is somebody who didn’t initiate the fight, and they didn’t invite the threat. According to WCHS Dean of Students David Bechinski, WCHS accommodates people who reasonably defend themselves.
“We had a situation, maybe ten years ago, where a young lady was walking … and a girl came up from behind her and just sucker punched her from behind,” Bechinski said. “The girl who got hit didn’t know what was going on, she turned around and took a swing at the person to get that person off of her. As soon as they were off of her, she stopped and just held her away.”
People need to be able to defend themselves with them appropriate amount of force to restrain their attacker.
Students who defend themselves should not and are not punished. According to Bechinski, defending yourself is justified when there is a presence of imminent threat.
“The first thing we look at when we have a fight is whether the two people involved had a chance to walk away,” Bechinski said.
Self defense is no longer justified after the offensive party has began to lack hostility. Someone who defends themselves, inside or outside of school, may be arrested for assault or battery, but they can use a self defense claim against that charge in court.
The self defense clause is in place to protect people who don’t try to fight in the halls. Bechinski says that these principles are recognized.
“There no such thing as unregulated free speech,” Bechinski said. “You can’t go into an airport and scream ‘bomb’.”
One limitation to the First Amendment is the use of ‘fighting words’, which according to cornell.edu, is a term to define words of which can immediately disturb the presence of peace or incite physical conflicts.
Some believe that students should be punished for defending themselves in a school settings in order to teach them to simply “walk away” from a fight. One problem with that argument: that’s not always possible. If an attacker jumps on someone out of nowhere with little to no warning, which sounds unlikely until it happens, it’s not usually possible to simply walk away. Protecting from physical harm is absolutely justified and should be universally accepted, especially considered how physical harm can possibly be fatal.