This past week I came across an article about a man in Florida getting on a school bus to confront some kids that were bullying his daughter. He threatened the kids saying that he would kill anyone who picked on his daughter again and this got him arrested. Interestingly, the article asked the question of whether the father was a bully and paints him as some sort of wacko. While one can certainly argue that this wasn’t the best way to handle the situation, the article shows no empathy towards the father or the girl. And that is part of the reason why bullying is an increasing problem in today’s society.
The article doesn’t say much about the bullying although upon further research, it was reported that the harassment was both verbal and physical. The father is criticized as bulling the kids because he’s someone that could carry out his threats of harming the kids. However, the fact that he said he’d only harm those that harass his daughter seemed to have slipped the reporter’s mind.
As someone who has witnessed school bus bullying (and even was a victim of it), I’m appalled at the way this situation was reported. While kids need to learn to be strong, deal with criticism and learn the reality that there are people out there that want to harm them, bullying does severe (and often, permanent damage) to a victim’s self-esteem. It turns happy kids into recluses. It causes depression and in some cases, suicide (and even homicide).
Yes, the father in this case may have gone a little far and possibly traumatized the “innocent” kids on the bus that weren’t harassing his daughter. But it’s almost certain that those kids that he confronted will not pick on his daughter again — they’ll most likely move on to another victim whose parents will put up with it.
The story says that the father never reported the incident to the school. What it doesn’t say is whether he’s reported other incidents in the past or if others that he knew reported incidents and it didn’t stop the bullying. While the father could have stopped letting his daughter take the bus, if the bullying continued at school his daughter would still be tormented.
I don’t fault the father for taking action. I would have chosen my words differently, but not knowing the area and the kids involved, his words may have been most effective. I agree with most of the people that commented on the article that the father did the right thing. We can’t leave it up to the schools alone to stop bullying. Teachers , bus drivers and other members of the school staff can only do so much — remember that they are outnumbered by kids somewhere in the range of between 20 and 30 to 1.
My question to those who think the father was wrong is simple. If your child is being physically or verbally harassed, do you really want to let continue for even one second or longer or do you want to step up and deal with it right away? Sometimes our anger gets the best of us and we say or do things we may later regret. But we have to remember who the biggest harm to society is — the kids that did the bullying. The father did his primary job — attempting to protect his daughter. It’s about time more parents step up and show bullies that they won’t tolerate them — regardless of the consequences they may face.