A chokehold caught on camera at a Texas school has put a national spotlight on the worst way to handle bullying.
In a video that went viral Tuesday, Shaan Pritmani, a student at Coppell Middle School North is sitting at a cafeteria table when another boy standing behind him wraps an arm around his throat in a chokehold, twists it violently, and flings him out of his seat to the floor by his neck. According to his mother, Shaan was given three days of in-school suspension for the incident, for defending himself. The assailant, whose name has not been released, was given only one day.
According to an attorney for the assailant, he was responding to Shaan making vulgar comments and violent threats against his family, but in the video, the conflict appears to be the assailant wanting Shaan’s seat.
The school, despite the video, has sided with the assailant’s version of events and while they are investigating, have released a statement saying that regardless of the results, they will not change their verdict.
“Bullying, both verbal and physical, as well as physical acts of aggression are never acceptable and do not align with who we are at CISD and our core values,” wrote Superintendent Brad Hunt in an email to parents.
“We are confident that after all the facts are revealed, the case will be closed and no further action will be taken other than what the school has already decided was appropriate,” he continued.
This kind of no-tolerance policy which punishes conflict with no context has been shown over and over again to encourage violence, not discourage it. The fact that Shaan is first-generation Afgan-American and his assailant is apparently white is just a part of why this story has so many fired up.
“The school can preach all it wants that they’re antibullying and place it on their website, but they are sending a message to this kid and the rest of the student body that this behavior is acceptable,” said Marwa Elbially, attorney for Shaan and his family.