Should the Driver Have Intervened in School Bus Beating?
Stories about bullying have always upset me. However, they affect me even more so now that I’m a mother, which is why I haven’t been able to watch the cell phone and surveillance videos released earlier this week of an assault on a 13-year-old boy. I’m afraid my heart would break into a million little pieces seeing the helpless teenage being pummeled by three 15-year-old boys on a Florida school bus.
According to news reports, the teen was attacked because he revealed to officials that one of the older boys had tried to sell him drugs. So they retaliated and left the victim with two black eyes and a broken arm.
I rode a bus to school throughout middle school and part of high school, before I got my license. Admittedly, kids that age can be terrible to one another, but never did I witness teenagers fighting in such a ferocious manner. The worst episode of school bus bullying I recall was a group of middle school boys relentlessly teasing a female classmate for wearing a polka-dotted outfit; they called her “Polkie” for years after.
I can’t even begin to imagine what those boys were thinking as they were beating the younger student. Where did they learn such violent behavior? And what about the other students on the bus? How fearful were they? Did anybody have the urge to jump in and help the boy being attacked on the floor between the bus seats?
We know that the bus driver, John Moody, tried to help the best way he knew how – by calling dispatch and pleading for help and by yelling at the attackers to leave the victim alone.
Now the police are criticizing him for his perceived lack of effort to help. But what else could he have done? School policy only required him to call dispatch, not to intervene.
On one hand, I understand why he kept a safe distance. The bullies likely would’ve injured him, too. Also, how responsible would it have been for him to leave the wheel unattended during such a conflict?
But as a parent, I think I’d want to know that the only adult on the bus came to my son’s rescue if he had been the victim of such a horrible beating. That the driver did everything he could to ensure my son’s safety.
What do you think? Did the bus driver act responsibly or did he fail the students – the victim and the witnesses – by not jumping in?