When bullying gets so bad that parents are jumping on school buses to confront the perpetrators, is it time to start stepping up the proactive efforts to stop incidents from escalating to this level?
I'm sure many of you have seen the footage from last week. James Jones, the father of a 13-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, steps onto his daughter's bus and confronts the bullies who have been constantly harrasing his little girl, which allegedly has included placing an open condom on her head, smacking her on the back of the head, twisting her ear and shouting rude comments at her. But, it is the way he approached the bullies that many are having a problem with.
When watching the video, it's obvious that he should have never boarded the bus in the first place. But, then again, as a parent, it is very hard to restrain yourself when someone is apparently harming your child. The line was definitely crossed when he started threatening to kill the students. The passion behind parenthood can take over sometimes and make the most calm and logical people act in a way that they normally would not.
But, he has his supporters, with some even starting a Facebook page in his defense. Jones has admitted he was wrong and has offered to apologize to the students, the same students that have terrorized his daughter to the point that she was hospitalized over the stress the bullying caused.
I have seen this effect first hand. Not only have I seen my sons bullied by children their own age, but also grown men. During the last school year, my son was called a "retard" by the father of a boy who had bullied my son and others throughout the year. And, I admit, it took a lot of restraint not to confront the father myself. But, I left it to the school and they handled the situation by expelling the parent from the school grounds for about a month.
A few weeks ago, the same father decided to once again say something both childish and hurtful to my son. This grown man decided, after knowing full well that my son had graduated elementary school and was moving to middle school in the fall, to shout to him across a crowded playground and ask him whether he was held back again. My son was retained because of his dyslexia, and the father used this as a way to mock him.
My son has made great leaps and is doing great in school because of his hard work and endless efforts. But, this does not lessen the pain of bullying, especially when it comes from an adult. Bullying is a behavior that is learned and, sometimes, taught to children. School districts, and all the staff within, need to work together to send out a zero tolerance message on bullying, whether in the classroom, around the playgrounds or on the school bus.