It started out as just another school day for John Webster, a 27 year old, 5'10", 250 pound former Division 3 college football player, and now gym teacher at PS 330 in Queens, New York. Little did he know, it would be anything but normal. By the end of the day he suffered an injury that required surgery, and was so humiliated and traumatized by an alarming turn of events that he would later seek therapy, and file a law suit against the city.
Webster was viciously attacked by one of his students. But not just any student. His attacker was Rodrigo Caprio, a 50 pound, 6 year old, first grader who stands a little over 4 feet tall. Although diminutive in stature, little Rodrigo apparently packs a wallop.
The incident occurred when Webster, who was escorting Rodrigo to his classroom asked him to stop jumping and spinning on the stairs. When this behavior continued, Webster grabbed Rodrigo's arms and this extremely strong 6 year old launched a retaliatory attack on his teacher, after kicking him once in the ankle, he then spun around and kicked him in the knee. According to the victim he heard his knee pop. Webster took this young man to the school's main office shortly after where he then attack the Principal when confronted the threat of his parents being called. The principal sustained minor injuries. But as a result of this incident, Webster suffered a broken ankle, and his knee required extensive surgery that kept him out of work.
Mr. Webster's attorney claims that the school was aware that Carpio has attacked both students and teachers in the past and no action was taken.
When little Rodrigo's mother asked him about the incident, he said that he hadn't done anything, and in fact, didn't even remember what happened.
When asked by the local media about their child's actions regarding the incident both parents denied the possibility that their son could have harmed anyone. Especially not one of his teachers.
On the surface this story sounds laughable. A 50 pound 1st grader beating up his teacher who just happens to be to a big, burley ex college football player. My first thought was to dismiss this story as that of an opportunist looking for an easy pay day. But, once I did the research, and peeled back the layers I realized that this story is much deeper than it seems. There are several interesting parts of this narrative that are worth dissecting.
First and foremost I found it interesting that Mr. Webster claimed to have been humiliated by his 6 year old pupil. But to me it would seem more humiliating to admit to the world that a 50 pound, 6 year old beat your behind, and then file a lawsuit because of it. I guess money trumps humiliation. I'm sure that he's been hit much harder by guys far bigger than Rodrigo on the football field. I think that he either had prior injuries or has bones made out of peanut brittle. No matter how you look at it, no self respecting man would take such blatant disrespect from a child. If I were in his shoes this kid's parents would probably file a lawsuit against me for putting this kid across my knee.
Secondly, our society is becoming one in which lack of reverence for authority and disrespect have run amuck without consequences. It has been reported that this rambunctious 1st grader has been involved in one incident after another. Yet nothing was done to get this unusually aggressive child the help that he so desperately needs. Not correcting and or punishing a child when their actions are unacceptable is the same as condoning their behavior. This sends the message that it is ok to kick anybody they want because they haven't faced any consequences for doing it in the past.
Lastly, I cannot believe that there are still some parents out there who think that their kids are angels who have dropped from heaven, and do no wrong. These parents are possibly in denial, have their heads buried in the sand, or do not want to know the truth. What they fail to realize is the fact that the world is not going to perch their children atop a pedestal, and ignore their faults. In fact the world will think nothing of administering the swift punishment necessary to teach the lessons never taught at home.
Little Rodrigo told his parents that he doesn't remember anything? I have a 6 year old, and trust me, they remember EVERYTHING in vivid detail. I hope that the parents and the NYC Board of Education are able to work together to help this young man, and get to the root of the problem.