I Have a Gripe

September 22, 2010

James Jones and Bullies: What Would You Do?

For the last few days, there has been coverage about James Jones, the father of a girl with cerebral palsy, and his threatening rants on a school bus directed toward his daughter’s bullies. Ultimately, he was arrested, charged with two misdemeanors and made a very public apology. He felt in his rant, he had actually become the bully.

While he did flip out, in my opinion understandably, I feel there is something important missing to this story. What about his daughter’s bullies? What about them? I have not heard one bit about how their parents or the school will handle this issue.

Let’s face it. Many of us were bullied as children. I know I was. Each day after middle school for several months I would wait across the street for the public bus. There was a girl that would punch me, take my bus ticket and throw it down the sewer. I didn’t know her before, but I’ll never forget her name. I would then walk completely across town, sometimes taking close to an hour to get home. When my mother asked why I was home so late, I would tell her what happened. She actually told me, “just curl up your five little fingers and hit her back. She’ll never bother you again.” I told my mother I didn’t want to get in trouble for fighting and certainly didn’t want her to get involved.

Well, she did. She called the school and spoke with the vice principal. He didn’t know me, but  he knew my bully. He called each of us down to his office separately and that was the last time she ever bothered me. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that my mother told my aunt whose daughter and a friend also helped “take care” of the issue, if you know what I mean.

Now that was a long time ago and I don’t know if I would’ve received the same advice from my mother now. But the lesson was clear – do not to be afraid to stand up for myself.

Now going back to James Jones. His daughter can’t stand up for herself. She has cerebral palsy. She was obviously an easy target for the bullies on her bus. And how spineless are these bullies that they have to pick on a girl with special needs? When she cried that she didn’t want to go on the bus and told her father why, he was understandably enraged. I know I would’ve flipped out too if I had a special needs daughter and boys spat at her and put condoms on her head.

My point is this. Talk to your kids about bullying. Tell them how to respond. Let them know it is OK to stand up for themselves. If they can’t, tell them they need to tell their teacher and you as their parent.

In turn, parents need to make sure if their child is a bully, there will be consequences for their actions. Bullies are ultimately weak because they look for an easy target. Someone weaker than them. Their behavior is unacceptable.

So, I ask again for coverage of the rest of the story. I hope there are repercussions for these boys who bullied this special needs girl, just as the father is facing repercussions.



  1. When I was in fourth grade I was bullied, too. The ring leader was a mean-spirited boy named Brian. I remember his last name, too, and the names of the other boys who tormented me daily – pinching me, throwing things at me, pulling my hair. I was small — youngest in my class. I went to the teacher. Miss Heimbaugh. Her response was that I was being a crybaby and that I should stop whining. The bullying escalated. John Hartmann shoved me down in the middle of the classroom and I got a bump on the back of my head and chipped teeth. I think he was made to stand in the corner. Other kids joined in the taunting. Finally one day, Brian and Carlos decided they were going to beat the snot out of me. They told me all day they were going to beat me up after school, that I was really going to hurt. My dad happened to be picking me up for a dental appointment that day. I stood in the doorway at school, sobbing, refusing to come out. He asked me what was wrong … and then went ballistic on the acting principal because the school had done nothing to protect me. After chewing the guy’s behind for 10 minutes, we walked out. Brian and Carlos had been lying in wait, and jumped out of the bushes. I can still see my dad, holding each of them by the collar, telling them that if they ever bothered me again, he would do bodily harm.
    Brian was transferred to another school at that point, but the damage was done. It was maybe a month before school was over, and I was so traumatized by then that it’s taken a ton of therapy to wrap my head around the whole thing.
    Brian’s parents, of course, refused to believe he had done anything wrong. And his mother continued to refuse to listen to anyone who tried to tell her that Brian needed help. I heard reports years later that it was determined he was mentally ill, but that his mother refused to believe it. Sadly, she — and he — paid the ultimate price: Brian committed suicide at the age of 18.
    These days, I try to encourage Emily to ignore the crap as much as possible. But I’m watchful. And if there comes a time when I think she needs to defend herself, I’ll tell her to put her karate to use and lay them out.
    And then I’ll be all over the school for not doing anything to protect our kids.

    Comment by Karen Wall — September 22, 2010 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

    • What a shame…on multiple fronts. The school should’ve done more to protect you. This kid’s mother should’ve done more to help him. Sad all the way around. Hopefully, the recent bullying issues on the news will let schools know they need to take this seriously.

      Comment by alvb1227 — September 22, 2010 @ 7:04 pm | Reply

  2. […] pm Tags: bullying, cyber-bullying digital-bullying, life, personal responsibility, suicide In a previous post about bullying I spoke about a father standing up for his daughter with cerebral palsy who was being relentlessly […]

    Pingback by The Extreme in Bullying « I Have a Gripe — September 30, 2010 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

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