Dad's Schoolbus Outburst Causes Debate

Dad's schoolbus outburst causes debate.

ByKevin Dolak, Yunji De Nies and Suzanne Yeo via via logo
September 18, 2010, 1:29 PM

Sept. 18, 2010 -- James Jones' boarding of a school bus in central Florida this week to confront his daughter's bullies has people divided over the appropriateness of his outburst.

Jones, whose raw and obscene rage was on caught on the school bus' security camera, was arrested Thursday after the incident, and he was charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing a school function in Lake Mary, Fla.

The video is blurred but Jones' anger can clearly be heard.

"Everybody sit down. Everybody sit down," Jones said on the surveillance tape. He then orders his 11-year-old daughter to point out her alleged tormenters.

"Show me which one. Show me which one," he said.

Jones confronts the middle school students he says have been bullying his daughter, who has cerebral palsy, by taunting, hitting and even throwing condoms at her.

"I'm gonna (expletive) you up. … this is my daughter, and I will kill the (expletive) who fought her," Jones said.

Jones reportedly threatened not only the students but the bus driver as well.

"If anything happens to my daughter I'm going to (expletive) you up and everybody on this (expletive)," he said.

Before leaving, he dares them to call the police.

"You call the police, call them. My brother's the damn deputy sheriff."

An Inappropriate Response?

But is this sort of intervention -- even if it's not as explosive as Jones' -- appropriate when dealing with childhood bullying? Experts such as Child Psychologist Dr. Michael Bradley don't think so.

"The research is clear -- when we jump in and do that, it helps the kids actually feel worse," Bradley said on Good Morning America. "Because they feel less control, they feel like they can't handle themselves and they feel defenseless without the bodyguard there."

Rather than jumping to their defense, it's better to sit down with the child and discuss what can be done about bullying, Bradley recommended.

And even though his daughter is a special needs student, Bradley feels that this is not an excuse for Jones' behavior. If anything, a child facing challenges like cerebral palsy needs to be even more prepared for these situations, as they can be frequent targets of aggression.

"Consult with the kid so she feels like she's smart, she has some control and she'll be able to handle this in the future," Bradley said. 'We have to help them feel that they can control their environment and protect themselves."

Hundreds of "GMA" viewers sounded off's message boards about James Jones' actions on Thursday. While most don't approve of his method, the majority showed support for Jones' defense of his daughter.

"Thank god for awesome fathers like the one that defended his daughter," wrote Mindy Isaksen.

"You go Dad!!! Sad day when a parent standing up for his child is the one punished," wrote AnotherMorgan.

Parent Protecting his Daughter?

After Jones was released on bail he still defended his actions.

"My daughter is not going to be hazed and beat up and touched on like what they've done, ok," he said."This young lady has been bullied since the first day of school," said Sadiki Alexander, Jones' attorney. "This is a new school for her. It was an overwhelming experience. She's currently on suicide watch because of this matter. So we would just ask everyone to reserve judgment."

Police are also investigating the alleged bullies; they could face charges of their own.

Everyone is a part of bullying, Bradley said on "GMA." Whether you're the current victim, a past victim, the person doing the bullying or a silent bystander, you're still a part of the situation. It's important for parents to talk to kids about their role in these situations.

"It's not so much the bully and the victim we have to look at, it's the bystanders -- where were those other kids watching this go on? Were they enjoying that? Did they think it was funny? Or could they step up and say 'hey man, that's not funny, what's up with you?'"

"We find that when we go after the bystanders and teach them, and they start to speak up, that's when we solve this bullying problem in our schools," Bradley said.

Bradley added that raising this notion of the bystander's responsibility to step up and say something early and often with kids is the best way to tackle bullying problems in schools.

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