Until this past Friday, Southwood High School wasn’t on the media map. It was just one of many high schools in a small city. That changed when CBS did a heartwarming story about parents stepping in to make the school safer. Over 10 million people have watched how Dads on Duty became a spontaneous, volunteer school monitoring movement after 23 students were arrested for fighting.
Like most major news outlets, CBS considers thousands of potential stories each week. Dads on Duty is just 40 fathers who want to make a difference, at a single high school in a single small city. But the story had the most important ingredient for a viral news story – regular people taking an unusual, inspiring approach to overcome a real problem. The fathers didn’t despair or pull their kids from school. They didn’t blame other people. Instead, they took action. From CBS’ story:
They formed Dads on Duty — a group of about 40 dads who take shifts spending time at the school in Shreveport, Louisiana, greeting students in the morning and helping maintain a positive environment for learning, rather than fighting.
The students say it’s working — and the numbers prove it. There hasn’t been a single incident on campus since the dads showed up.
And though none of the dads have degrees in school counseling or criminal justice, they do have some relevant experience.
“We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us,” Michael LaFitte, who started Dads on Duty, said.
This story’s virality isn’t limited to the number of people who watched a single video. Local and national outlets across the country have followed up with their own Dads on Duty stories.
Virality starts with being contagious
When an illness becomes an epidemic, it goes “viral.” The Internet connotation of this word is much more positive because nothing goes viral unless it resonates with us – with our joy, anger, sadness, or any other emotion. It must, in other words, be contagious.
Dads on Duty’s contagion – its connection to real people – seems to be David beating Goliath – turning around a seemingly impossible situation. It connects to the human desire to beat the odds, to make a difference for people who need help, and to do so through our own unique talents.
Every day, you can find a negative story that went viral. Dads on Duty is a reminder that people matter, and that going for the heart gets media coverage that can make us smile in a moment, make a difference tomorrow, and be part of a movement next year. CBS says Dads on Duty wants to spread their spontaneous mission across the city and the country. We think they’ll succeed.