Parents without power to protect a child

A Florida father stormed on the school bus to yell at boys who’d tormented his 13-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy. The tirade was filmed by an onboard camera and went viral on YouTube. The father, James Jones, was charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a school function. He’s apologized, but said he “could not stand by and helplessly watch her suffer.”

Jones’ wife, Deborah McFadden-Jones, said the parents left messages with a school guidance counselor, but didn’t hear back.  The mother said their daughter was bullied for standing up for another girl.

Jones told deputies that “boys placed an open condom on his daughter’s head, smacked her on the back of her head, twisted her ear and shouted rude comments at her. He said she has been “teased, spit on, pulled, poked and pushed — and that she had an emotional breakdown after describing the harassment.”

Jones has been getting a lot of support. Ricochet writes about The impotence of having your child bullied.

I do not tolerate bullying. What my students don’t know is that I have watched both of my children bullied. The oldest got very quiet. When we determined what was happening (in middle school) we went to the principal and (to his credit) he put all of the boys in that grade together and told them that if it happened again, they were suspended and if their buddy wasn’t in school that day, it didn’t matter. That if their buddy did it again, he would be suspended as well. And it stopped.

Second child came along, and the bully was the son of a teacher (smaller than my son). Mine decked hers and ended up suspended, which I understood but told my son it was the appropriate punishment because he took things in his own hands. Same middle school, different principal. When it carried over onto the bus (and video) he finally did something and it stopped.

Instead of taking matters in his own hands, Jones should have gone to the principal and then the school board, she writes. “Here, his daughter would have an IEP and that means federal protection as well. Would I be screaming for that? You betcha.”

Is there “a special place in hell” for “little morons” who bully vulnerable children? One hopes so.

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Comments

  1. To this day I have a hard time trusting people thanks to the treatment I received at the hands of my peers in the 1970s. If it’s gotten worse in the 30-odd years since, that is very scary.

    I realize there’s no legal way to do it, but I tend to think that people who are repeat bullying offenders – especially of more vulnerable kids – should be summarily kicked out of school.

  2. I have no more interest in watching the video than in rubbernecking after a car wreck, but I can understand why the father lost it. Given the repeated failure of teachers to persuade administrators to address bullying, the father my not have gotten results. I’ve taught long enough that I’m always seeing dropouts on the street who are now old enough to admit the truth that they droped out due to fear. We educators congratulate ourselves when we get a bully to 12th grade and graduation, but we forget his victims who do not walk across the stage.

    I wish the father had availed himself of the special ed law, because it is the thing that educators are afraid of.

    In high school, in my experience, kids are mature enough that its only kids who are suffering themselves who persecute others due to their disability, sexual preference or race. But rightly or wrongly, in my experience, principals don’t dare suspend kids who are Seriously Emotionally Disturbed. The district doesn’t want them to suspend any kids on IEPs but they can do so until they reached ten days.

    I’ve asked the central office administrators and keep getting the same answer, “there are two types of districts, those who have been sued over special ed, and those who will be.”

    I’d ask how many successful suits has our district suffered due to suspending kids on IEPs and have always been told “none.” Then I ask how many we’ve lost for not protecting kids who are bullied, and the answer is “several.”

    But the key word is “successful.” Bureaucrats don’t want to deal with ANY lawsuits. (That’s why principals are told to not Long Term Suspend ANY kids on IEPs for possession of a knife if the blade is shorter than 2-1/2 inches. That’s just one of the many unwritten rules …)

    In my school, until recently when their numbers reached 20%, Hispanic students moved in convoys for their self protection. Once we were told that our school was losing a teacher because 100 Hispanics transferred due to fear. Did we use that as a wake-up call? No, we lobbied the neighboring school to not allow them in! And don’t get me started on the opression of gay students …

    Again, I’m only talking about high school and my experience where it is mostly traumatized kids kids who systemically bully others. When kids act out their pain by damaging others, we should not love them less. But we should have the guts to assess consequences.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    I have a special needs nephew who was assaulted in school, despite a requirement he be escorted. He was not being escorted at the time. The principal told my sister, referring to a lawsuit, “get in line”. I think he’d rather be sued by amateurs like my sister than by pros like the NAACP or the ACLU for minority pushout.

  4. Homeschool. Institutions cannot love.

  5. Consider this:…”A clear example of our logic is the case of gangs in the prison system. This is one of the only places where a 40-year old white man would be a gang member, and for good reason. In prison, inmates are frequently the victims of violence and intimidation that go unreported (or if reported, unpunished). This makes the environment similar to that in government-run schools and on inner-city streets. An inmate who joins a gang receives protection, which lowers the odds that he will be a victim of violent crime. Once again, the underlying demand for gangs stems from the presence of pre-existing violence.”

    Karen Brockenbrough, Dewey G. Cornell, Ann B. Loper
    “Aggressive Attitudes Among Victims of Violence at School”
    Education and the Treatment of Children, V. 25, #3, Aug., 2002.
    “Violence at school is a prevalent problem. According to a national survey of school proncipals (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1998), over 200,000 serious fights or physical attacks occurred in public schools during the 1996-1997 school year. Serious violent crimes occurred in approximately 12% of middle schools and 13% of high schools. Student surveys (Kann et al, 1995) indicate even higher rates of aggressive behavior. Approximately 16.2% of high school students nationwide reported involvement in a physical fight at school during a 30-day period, and 11.8% reported carrying a weapon on school property (Kann et al, 1995). Research on victims of violence at school suggests that repeated victimization has detrimental effects on a child’s emotional and social development.”

  6. Assuming that the parents have records of their attempts to contact school administration, I’d sue the school.

  7. If I was picked as a juror for a case in which a bully was killed by a victim, I would vote to acquit on the grounds of self-defense.  I have seen too much of this, and kids left at the mercy of the mob by adults who are supposed to help cannot be blamed if they eventually snap.

  8. Homeschooling Granny says:

    School buses are notorious as sites of bullying. It’s the Lord of the Flies effect. Children are assembled to spend a significant amount of time together without mature supervision. We’ve seen the arrangement all our lives so we tend to see it as normal but, upon reflection of what I know of history, I don’t think children were ever so age segregated and separated from adults before the development of schools roughly 150 years ago.

    It would be a good part of social education to place adults trained in conflict management on every bus. But expensive.

    If you have ever criticized homeschoolers for lack of socialization, remember this before you do so again.

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