High School Disciplines Fighting Boys With Forced Public Hand-Holding

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An Arizona school district has condemned one of its high schools for disciplining two boys for fighting ... by forcing them to hold hands in front of their classmates as punishment.

Hand-Holding Punishment

Earlier this week, the two students at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz., who have not been named, were faced with two options after getting into a fight:

  1. Suspension from school
  2. Sitting in chairs in the courtyard and holding hands for 15 minutes during lunch

They opted for the latter, and were ridiculed by their peers.

“Kids were laughing at them and calling them names, asking, ‘Are you gay?’” student Brittney Smyers told ABC affiliate KNXV, while photos began to circulate online.

On one Facebook posting, users commented that the public punishment was not appropriate, as it positions the teens as targets for taunting and name-calling.

Others said the punishment was anti-gay, as it implies two males holding hands is embarrassing.

Helen Hollands, director of communication and marketing for Mesa Public Schools, said the school’s principal, Tim Richard, who is in his first year at Westwood, had the idea.

“He’s done some great things there,” Hollands said. “He’s focused highly on maintaining a standard where [ideally] no students are failing a class.”

Once the school district got wind of Richard’s unique punishment, however, it issued a statement saying that it doesn’t condone what the school did:

“Mesa Public Schools is dedicated to maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment."

"The district has guidelines for appropriate student discipline and our site administrators have the authority to impose consequences within our policies and regulations.”

“The district does not condone the choice of in-school discipline given these students, regardless of their acceptance or willingness to participate."

"District leadership will address this matter with the school principal and review district protocol regarding student discipline with all administrators.”

Hollands said that the district is well aware that many perceived the discipline as bullying and biased.

“The district is looking at how the actions have been perceived,” she said of the now infamous and viral incident. “That’s a very important piece to know.”

Disciplining kids with hand-holding: Right or wrong?


I think this was a good choice for three reasons. One, suspension just means you miss schoolwork which makes no sense. Two, having a personal contact with someone makes it hard to attack the other person again and three, I doubt very much they want to sit holding hands in the school yard again. Good choice, no violence and it humanizes the people in the situation.


Wow. My sister and I were talking about humiliation punishments and we both think it is a great idea. Some people will keep doing things wrong because they think it makes them look tough. Well, they wouldn't look so tough with everyone laughing at them, would they? It seems that people care less about a consequence if no one has to see them punished. But something like this? It attacks the pride of the individual and people will change their ways to avoid the humiliating punishment. It just seems like a safe and rational way to stop problems among schools. Sure, they get picked at about if for a while, but that goes away soon enough and they just strive never to end up in such a situation again. Embarrassment is a great tool that should be harnessed instead of avoided.


I am so sick and tired of special interest groups touting their "rights" all over the place! I think that this was very appropriate! And they should be humiliated, That is what is wrong with our youth, they have no shame or remorse. My former son-in-law shoplifted from Wal-mart when he was a teen. Part of his sentence was to sit outside the store with the sign" I am a shoplifter around his neck! He never stole again. And I ask you, isnt it better to make boys hold hands that to have to call the police? the ambulance? the coroner? I wish everyone would lighten up. Ipersonally think Arizona has it going on and they should be modeled after.u




I don't have a problem with the kids being disciplined like this but I wonder why their classmates are allowed to taunt/bully them without also facing discipline? Either the school has rules against bullying or it doesn't.

Xinh vo trong
@ LI_Mom

I totally agree with you on that one, the punishment can actually teach those two. But there should've been a solution for the bullying as well.


Two guys holding hands doesn't have to have gay or homophobic implications. Hand holding is the opposite of fighting, I don't think this is in any way outrageous.

@ Asra

Agreed. I think it would be really hard to hold hands with someone you are angry with, so it kind of forced them to calm down and get over their anger. I do think its stupid they were ridiculed and made fun of, they didn't need to to it in front of all the students to get the point across.

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