Whoa! WHAT THE HELL???
Good Enough Mother is picking her lower jaw up off the floor after watching the video of the Florida father who jumped on a school bus and confronted the kids who had been allegedly bullying his daughter. I totally get wanting to protect your kid, that’s instinctive. But this man was WAY out of line.
The problem here is that everyone was traumatized by James Jones’ shortsighted actions. When he got on the bus he ordered everybody to sit down. Can you imagine those kids’ confusion as a stranger gets on and usurps the bus driver’s authority? In their heads, they’re thinking, “wait, that’s not how it’s supposed to be.” Then he yells at his daughter to “show me which ones”, placing her in an untenable situation. She cannot defy her father so she gets up and is forced to point out who she said had been bullying her (worth noting, the father never reported any of this to the school). Jones goes on to threaten them with language that would make a merchant marine blush. But what are they supposed to do? Here’s this grown-up, a really pissed one at that, cussing and carrying on. It was probably so surreal they had a hard time digesting exactly what was happening…
Then there were the unintended victims; the other kids on the bus who had nothing to do with the alleged bullying but by their proximity are subjected to Jones’ rage. I keep going back to this but we cannot forget these are kids and he is an adult. They have been taught to listen to adults because they are authority figures. Any parent also knows how terribly unsettling it is to kids when adults raise their voices; I can only imagine how terrifying it was for the bystanders. But Jones doesn’t stop there, next directing his anger at the bus driver, whom he also promises to hurt should anything happen to his daughter. Ugh.
There is a part of me that understands this and when I saw Jones interviewed, I felt sorry for him. He was trying to protect his girl who has cerebral palsy and was going to a new school. As a parent he was sensitive to her transition and when it did not go well, he saw his baby in pain and spring into action. However wrong it was, there’s no denying he did this because he loved and was trying to protect his daughter.
The problem is the mess left in the wake of this outburst. Any parent of a teen or pre-teen knows how important it is for them to fit in. Now his daughter, who reportedly had been on suicide watch because of the bullying, has to go to school with everyone knowing her father went off, half-cocked on some kids. Jones himself has been charged with two misdemeanors and the other kids on the bus have no doubt been affected as well. And ultimately, what kind of example is this for his daughter?
Bullying is a very serious problem and that cannot be stated enough. But shouldn’t Jones have started somewhere else? Perhaps working with the school and if he didn’t get results, contacting the authorities, as the sheriff’s department suggested? Seems to me a whole lot of drama could have been avoided if Jones had thought this out before jumping on that big, yellow bus.
But what do you think? Was Jones justified in his school bus rage? Were you ever bullied or had a kid who’s had to deal with it? What did you do?