Parents Take Bullying Into Their Own Hands

Storming a school bus probably isn't the best response to your daughter's bullying — but the question remains, if a kid's being tormented, what can parents do?

Lisa Belkin of the Times Motherlode blog writes about two questionable anti-bullying responses: Betty Duvall gave her daughter pepper spray, which she then used on bullies; and James Jones boarded his daughter's school bus, screaming and cursing at her bullies and other riders. You can see that incident below.

Regarding the pepper spray, Duvall said, "I know it was wrong, but I had to do what I had to do. If [Duvall's daughter Michelle] wouldn't have had that protection, she probably would have been in the hospital right now." Jones's analysis of his bus rant is similar. He says, "a dad is a dad, and I was going to be her protector that day."

Duvall's and Jones's stories are strikingly similar: both had talked to school officials without success, and both felt they had no other option but to take things into their own hands. The way they did so may not have been ideal, but what would have been the right response? What can a parent do when school becomes unsafe for a child? Some kids specifically ask parents not to intervene, fearing it will make things worse — but if a kid's getting hit and spit on, as Jones's daughter reportedly was, just ignoring it isn't a good answer either. Given how many kids don't have the support of their parents, it's actually encouraging that Duvall and Jones wanted to protect their daughters — but they and parents like them clearly need more strategies to do so. Schools could be a resource here, but right now they seem to be dropping the ball. Maybe they could start by recruiting a few good babies.

When Parents Intervene With Bullying [NYT Motherlode Blog]
Fighting Bullying With Babies [NYT Opinionator Blog]