There were uncomfortable truths aired last week in York County Family Court.
The public learned about an April altercation at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, where one student injured another after a purported dispute over $5 and subsequent racial slurs.
One student was black, the other white.
People who watched a video of the incident could see the fight was one-sided. One student is a football player and had a noticeable size advantage. He punched then body-slammed the other boy. He then punched the smaller boy while he was lying on the ground.
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The 16-year-old pleaded guilty Tuesday to assault and battery.
Family Court Judge Tony Jones said he was most concerned about the punch, which he referred to as “the second attack.” That blow, with the boy’s head so close to the ground, could have resulted in more serious injuries. The smaller boy suffered a concussion, head bruises and spinal injuries.
Jones also had stern words for the assault victim, who is white, and who made the racial slurs. According to court records, the racial slurs were made via texts and on social media posts. Jones said in court there is “no place in society” for racial slurs.
The defendant had no prior record of trouble and several people wrote letters of support on his behalf. South Carolina juvenile justice officials have recommended probation. Sending a young person with an otherwise clean record to jail seems to serve no one.
Jones has several weeks to make his decision.
Students gathered to watch the fight between the two boys as though it were entertainment. The scenario is not new. Neither is it confined to a single school.
However, this should be a wake-up call to all parents and students as we approach the start of a new year. Kindness and self-restraint in speech and action are desirable human character traits.
Race already is a sensitive subject in many sectors of American society. You add slurs and a mob and the intensity heightens.
Unfortunately, mainstream American society shows evidence of being less tolerant, and more drawn to abusive language and violent actions.
Now’s a good time to draw a clear line.
We should never accept violence in school or anywhere else. Nor should we accept language that incites violence.