Food fights have sure changed

This story was brought to my attention by SKL.

“A 13-year-old girl who threw vegetables in a cafeteria worker’s face sparked a fist-fight that ended with criminal charges being filed against the worker, who apparently didn’t find the incident very amusing.

An unnamed student at Gilmartin Elementary School in Waterbury, Conn. tossed her veggies at 55-year-old lunch aide Rosa Robles in the cafeteria line, the Republican-American reports. Robles then walked up to the teen and returned the favor. “How do you like it?” Robles asked, according to the police report. Police spokesman Lt. Christopher Corbett tells the newspaper the girl then punched Robles in the face, sparking a fisticuffs that led to scratches on the girl’s face and cut lips for both the teen and Robles.

Robles now faces charges of risk of injury to a minor, assault in the third-degree and breach of peace. The girl — who is in fifth grade, according to Corbett — has been suspended and will remain so until the school is able to complete an investigation of the incident.”

I know how I feel about this but part of me feels bad that I feel this way. I know how hard this job is. I was just telling you guys last week about the problems I encountered my last few years working in the lunchroom and on the playground and a big part of me feels that a lot of parent’s need to step back and let us do our jobs. I also know that there have to be some sort of problems for a 13-year-old to only be in 5th grade. I have two 9-year-old grandchildren and they are both in 4 th grade so I would “assume” that she has some sort of learning disorder or behavioral disorder.

SO…..adults are supposed to refrain from this kind of thing but sometimes it’s so hard. I would have been so tempted to do this also but I’m not sure I would have. I remember one year I was so frustrated with a 7 th grader that I said to him that “I was getting sick of his bullshit.” He looked at me and said “Mrs Erickson, you swore” and I said “yes I did and I meant it. I’m sick of this bullshit you give me everyday and besides, bullshit is a really good word. I like it.” He then looked at me and said “ya, it’s a good word” and I didn’t have much trouble with him after that. Sometimes I do think kids need a taste of their own medicine but to throw food and hit, I’m really not sure I would have done that. Now that I think about it, I might have thrown the veggies, but I never would have hit a child while at work.

Wow, what does everyone think about this?

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19 Responses to Food fights have sure changed

  1. LVISS says:


  2. SKL says:

    It’s hard to know who is really to “blame” here without having been there. Obviously it’s important that adults who work with kids have to have a lot of patience. But everyone has a breaking point. It’s one thing if a child throws food in your face and you have a meaningful procedure to make sure the child doesn’t try that again. But what if it happens repeatedly, and nobody is doing anything about it? Everyone’s looking the other way? The children get more and more emboldened? If they get away with throwing food at an adult today, what will they try tomorrow to get an even bigger thrill?

    One could even understand a non-seasoned school worker thinking, no child is going to throw food in an adult’s face and get away with it, not for one minute. Even more so when it comes to punching.

    Remember about 10-15 years ago, when they were bringing a bunch of Indian teachers to the US to help fill a teaching shortage? They asked the prospective teachers what they’d do about misbehavior, and most of them replied that they’d whack the child. (Which is what US teachers were expected to do when I was a kid.) For a middle-aged or older person, the mindset that we don’t physically react when kids do outrageous things, even to our person, has to be learned.

    I see this as mainly a very unfortunate incident with an individual adult who was either insufficiently trained or lacking in self-control. But on the other hand, the fact that children think they can physically attack adults in school and get away with it is very disturbing. I was glad to hear that they at least suspended the child. I also understand your point that she may have been mentally impaired or something, and maybe that is the whole story, but I kind of doubt it. The times, they are a-changin’, and it’s not all for the better.

    • SKL says:

      For the record, if pushed too far, I might have tossed veggies back at that girl. But I don’t think I could ever punch a child. I don’t think I have ever punched anyone, so it would take an awful lot to get me that out-of-control. However, I can think of some “nice” people who have been known to strike out when pushed to the limit. I think it’s partly a personality thing. There’s something to be said for not taking any shit.

      • Joy says:

        I’m with you SKL. I was in the other room thinking about this and thought that I’ve never even been in a fisticuff type fight. I’ve slapped someone in the face and got slapped right back and other than a few swats on my boys butts, I’ve never “hit” anyone but I think I may be tempted to throw the veggies.

  3. sweetiegirlz says:

    That little BRAT. lol!

    If that was my kid….gah!!

    I can’t believe the adult is the one facing charges if the kid punched her!

    I thought it was a felony to hit someone 55 and older. (srsly) this is what they told us in nursing assistant school.

    If I was that worker I’d be sooooo fired. lol.

    My dad works at a high school as a custodian and he sees fights almost on the daily. Even the school was locked down once for a gun fired. I told my dad, can’t you just find a nice KINDERGARTEN To work in?

  4. Ellen says:

    Oh, I agree so much on you in this, Joy. I Hate when a parent says my children do not do such thing! Yeah Right!!

    I am not sure, what I would have done, if a 13 year old girl would hit me real hard. I also do not understand where the other women were who worked in the cafeteria. You almost never work alone there. I think I would walk out of the cafeteria and go to a teacher. Let they handle the situation.

  5. mssc54 says:

    Tell me again… who is the adult?

    I really don’t give a rat’s b-hind what my CHILD does or says to an adult…. Well that’s not true I DO care. But what I mean is that there is NEVER a good reason for an ADULT to assault a child. PERIOD!! If you start making exceptions then who is it that gets to make up that list of exceptions?

    Child throws vegetables in your face – Okay to assault.

    Child throws vegetavles on your stomach – Not okay to assault.

    Child shoves you – Okay to assault.

    Child ….

    Who gets to make up the list of reasons it is okay to assault a child?

    When it concerns my child – I DO!


  6. Laura (LS) says:

    I agree with MSSC, to a point.

    Having worked with middle-school kids in a ridiculously large school (there were 1000 kids in grades 6,7, & 8; age range 11-14), I know that this group, in particular is mouthy, constantly pushing the boundaries. And this group, in particular, seems to receive the most “not MY angelic child” support from their parents.

    The minute you walk through that door, you must be Alpha. Not mean, but definitely carrying a “don’t mess with me” attitude. And it doesn’t matter if you’re the lunch lady or the Principal. Those kids must know where they stand with you, and that there is a rock-solid line that will. not. be crossed. In my situation, I had three students in particular that my boss, the band director, explicitly told me NOT to tangle with, because I would likely be brought before the principal and those children’s parents, to defend my behavior and discipline techniques. Those kids each tested me, and each and every time, I won. And I only had a problem with one of the parents, who was shocked right down to her toes when I replied, “I don’t care!” when she told me that her precious little baby-angel didn’t like me. But I never had a problem with that kid again, because I stood my ground.

    That said, if I had been physically assaulted – punched – by any of those children, they’d have been in a hold and being dragged into the Principal’s Office so fast, they wouldn’t know what hit them. I don’t let horses or dogs bite me, I’m certainly not going to stand there and allow a child to punch me.

  7. Laura (LS) says:

    I also think there’s are issues here that are so complicated, they won’t be solved here, but they definitely are contributing factors.

    The public school system as a whole is in massive melt-down. (and because I know my brother is reading this, I will qualify that statement by saying that there are a LOT of really good public schools out there, that have amazing teachers, and produce really excellent students. 🙂 )

    Anyway, the schools are getting larger and larger, because funding is getting stretched thinner and thinner – for whatever reason. Teachers are being asked to deal with larger and larger classes. On top of that, we are expecting our schools to be the be-all, end-all of child-rearing. Children who would otherwise receive specialized education are “mainstreamed” because they can’t be treated differently, even though they are different. They are thrown into huge classes, and the teacher is asked to teach to every possible learning situation, in a single classroom.

    I suspect that’s part of the issue here – Joy is right, what was that girl, age 13, doing in fifth grade? There is probably a learning disability there, and she’s been put into “regular school” so that she feels “normal” and her self-esteem is boosted. But now she has become a disruption.

    And that problem is compounded by the fact that the adults in the schools are constantly handcuffed by rules, regulations and Political Correctness.

    No child can be corrected in any manner that threatens his or her self-esteem, let alone be physically corrected, even if he/she physically attacks a teacher. Everything must be talked out, reasoned out… and sometimes what’s needed is swift, decisive, and maybe cruel (though not permanently damaging) action.

    But, thanks to the massive interference of the government that we have so abdicated our rights to, that’s not gonna happen. It’s systemic, it’s a debilitating disease, and it’s going to spread unless we take drastic measures.

  8. SKL says:

    What MSSC says makes sense, but it doesn’t take into account the fact that everyone is human, everyone has a limit, and some kids think they were placed on this earth to find that limit, particularly with people like “lunch ladies” who have no control over their success or failure.

    There are some things that most adult humans are genetically programmed to strike out at. Having something thrown or punched at one’s face is one of them. It is possible to un-learn this tendency with lots of practice and meditation and a full understanding of why it’s important. But do we pay lunch ladies enough to expect them all to be that evolved? To be honest, it’s pretty amazing that kids aren’t mildly “assaulted” by adults in the lunch room. They outright ask for it often enough.

    Pretty much throughout history, kids have known that if they cross a certain line (far short of throwing food in an adult’s face), they would pay a physical price for it. And that has not meant the demise of the human race. It might actually have been a better situation than what we have today, though certainly many will disagree with me on that. I think parents need to practice a little detachment when it comes to their precious angels. It’s one thing to be “misunderstood.” But when the adult has veggies thrown in her face, what’s there to understand? I’d personally whack my 3-year-old if I found out she did that, after I recovered from my massive stroke and heart attack. (Are you listening, A & E?)

  9. Joy says:

    I also tend to agree with mssc “to a point” but I also agree with SKL that we are only humans and can only be pushed so far. I’ll bet you ANYTHING that they have trouble with this child ALL THE TIME and I’ll bet most times everyone looks the other way. I’ll go one stop further and say I’ll bet she’s a big bully to the students as well. First of all, she shouldn’t be in fifth grade. Who is keeping this child back that much? It’s not emotionally good for her. She’s AT LEAST 3 years younger than her peers.

    I am in no way saying that the punching and hitting is okay but I do think there is a limit. If your child were to do this would you think it okay? I know most if not all of you would say “of course not” but we don’t know her parent’s or the situation but again, I’ll bet this kid is horrible in this setting. Most EBD and special ed kids are. There aren’t enough boundaries for most of them. I’m also wondering where her para was. She’s got to have someone with her because something is not right about this. If I could tell you all the times we got left with kids like this while the special ed teacher or para just “ran to get something for just a minute” you’d be shocked. People think lunch and playground people are nothing. I saw it all the time and it really did make me mad.

    I also agree with Laura about standing your ground and being consistent and up front with the kids. I was very easy going with the kids but they knew I had limits and what those limits were. I was always fair. I had teachers come to me and tell me if I was the one that gave the kids a “pink slip,” they knew they had it coming. I was almost never questioned but what’s someone behind a counter supposed to do when she gets hit with food from a snotty kid. A big part of me feels sorry for this woman because like I said, I’ll bet this kid is a pill every single day.

  10. javajunkee says:

    I think just shoving a plate of food in her face would have made me feel better. Seriously I think that the teachers/aides etc have been pushed to the limit. You know growing up we would torment certain teachers and stuff but we knew where the button pushing needed to stop. Where it was no longer just a torment for the hell of it but would have easily become abusive.
    I could see caught up in the heat of the moment though and trying to gain control it would be easy to pop a kid in the mouth.

  11. Just a Mom says:

    I don’t think I would have hit the kid back even if I was hit first. I don’t even think I would have thrown food at the kid. I would have gone up and grabbed the kid by the shirt collar and dragged her butt into the office.

  12. Nikki says:

    No where does it say what provoked this girl. Not that it matters I suppose. No one should act like that. Food fights to begin with i always thought were for TV. I have never seen one in all the schools I have been to! They sure look fun though!
    Seriously, never would I condone physical hard to a child, nor from a child to an adult. I personally would not have thrown food back, I would have walked out completely embarrassed and handled it through the principle and her parents. That said, I WISH I had the courage to do something like that back!
    I don’t understand on what grounds this women should be charged! I don’t agree with it. Sure maybe she should have been the bigger person and not stooped to the kids level but at what point are kids held responsible for the way they treat teachers these days.
    Of course I don’t agree with spanking our kids on school, but it seems kids are getting away with TOO much now days. They need to find a balance. I feel terrible for that women. And that girl needs to get her little butt spanked by her parents, along with maybe some counseling on how to handle herself.

  13. joz1234 says:

    She should have walked away after the kid put the food in her face. She had no business doing it back. It just escalated the problem. I would have gone straight to the office and if they did not support me I would file charges on the student. That’s ridiculous that any staff member would react that way, I don’t care if the kid was a heinous brat or not. Be the adult. If we don’t model the proper behavior, then we won’t ever have a chance of teaching kids like that to be better.

  14. I can see myself getting mad enough to almost hit this kid – almost. It’s scary what we can do when we’re in a rage, and I can understand the lunch-lady’s anger and frustration as I’m sure she gets a lot of shit in her job as it is. But still, adults are supposed to know self-control and to be able to restrain themselves. If it were me… I don’t know, maybe I would have dragged her to the principal’s office, but I don’t think I’d have hit back.

    • Joy says:

      No joz and Ilana, I never would have hit the child but I may have thrown a carrot at her. Like I said, I’ll bet she’s rude and disrespectful all the time and clearly her parents think that’s okay. That’s just the frustrating thing about it.

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