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Bullying Triggers Brutal School Bus Attack

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A disturbing school bus brawl shows just how far bullying brutality can go. Is your kid safe?

It's every parent's worst nightmare -- caught on tape. An Illinois boy was beaten on a school bus by two students as the other passengers cheered and laughed. The victim -- according to an eye witness -- has been picked on at the school for some time. What started this outburst of violence? The victim allegedly pushed one of the boys' book bags on the floor.

The two Belleville West High School kids responsible for the senseless violence have been expelled from the school. The others who sat by and giggled at the beating have been suspended.

The big question on everybody's mind is just what the bus driver was doing as a lone student was pummeled in the back of the bus. In response, school superintendent Dr. Greg Moats said "Any adult who sees any activity on or off campus, we would hope that they would put a stop to it." But they didn't.

There had been speculation that the beating was racially motivated -- the police disagree. "It's not necessarily race-related," said Belleville Police Capt. Don Sax. "It's just bullying and that's where it is."

Sadly, bullying comes in all shapes and forms. Momlogic asked Ross Ellis, founder and chief executive officer of Love Our Children USA, the national nonprofit leader on child violence prevention, for tips on protecting our children.

Kindness starts at home:
"The reality is, any kid can become a bully or be victimized themselves, so it's crucial to take preventative measures now," says Ellis. "Bullying is a learned behavior. So when kids see you criticize others -- 'Can you believe what Jill was wearing?' -- they mimic your actions out in the world. What's more, insecurity usually triggers a bully's behavior. So raising confident and empathetic children will have a twofold effect: Not only will your kids have positive self-esteem, but they'll be more likely to stand up for other kids who are being harassed."

Develop a buddy system:
"It's a fact that bullies rarely strike groups -- they just don't have the guts," says Ellis. "If your child is being harassed, make sure he or she walks around school with a friend, or is within earshot of a teacher." If someone does start bullying your kid, have them look the bully in the eye and say, "I don't like your teasing. Stop it right now." Then they should walk away and report the incident. If the bully pushes, teach your kid not to hit back. "Bullies want a reaction, so if the victim reciprocates, the problem will worsen," says Ross.

Take action: "As tempting as it is to sit down with the troublemaker's parents, don't," says Ellis. "Most parents are defensive toward criticism of their child or are in denial there's even a problem." A better idea: Go to the school directly, and record every incident of harassment. Then ask your school to develop an anti-bullying program and form a watchdog group with other parents. Ellis concludes, "The sad truth is most prevention lies with parents, because most schools just don't take bullying seriously enough."

If your child is being bullied, take action. Check out The Bullying Prevention School of Rights.

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32 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 17, 2009, 5:36 PM

The poor kid did not deserve that, and it was so disgustingly sick to watch. It was a racist move because he was almost the only white kid on the bus. The kids laughing are sick, and the bullies should be convicted into juvie. Bless the victim because he doesn’t deserve to be treated like that ever.

Trina September 18, 2009, 6:42 AM

This made my heart race and me sick to my stomach.

I witnessed a bus fight driving behind a bus one day. One kid just started beating another one, standing up over him just beating him. I couldn’t believe the other kids just stood by and were watching. I finally honked my horn to make him stop. He looked back at me with hate in his eyes and glared and made hand gestures until the bus finally made a turn in a different direction. I was so scared I was afraid he might pull out a gun and shoot me. Not likely but crazier things have happened and you never know these days.

My kids will NEVER ride the bus because of these two incidents. I will do whatever I have to do to take them to school myself. I know not everyone can do that. But as long as I can, I will.

Kathy  September 18, 2009, 7:21 AM

I agree with “Concerned” that expulsion is not enough. Those kids need to be charged with assault. Did you see the kids in the front of the bus who were terrified for the boy and shocked? Those kids are dealing with some nightmares as well. Why the heck didn’t the bus driver pull over and bring the boy to the front or kick the other kids off? This makes me so angry for all the kids.

angry September 18, 2009, 7:37 AM

This just made me so f@#$ing mad. That poor kid, was he ok? If that was my child I would have went directly to the police, the school, and then a lawyers office. More than likely if that happened to my child i would not send him back to that school, because that was not two kids in a fight, that was a violent attack.

Alyce September 18, 2009, 7:49 AM

I completely disagree with Ross Ellis “teach your child not to hit back”. That is ridiculous! EVERY child has the right to speak up, stand up for and defend themselves. To me this sends the signal that “I’m okay with what you are doing, I don’t value myself enough to defend myself” Realistically, the hardcore bullying does not occur around responsible adults (teachers, counselors, principals etc.) Therefore, the likelihood that your child will be able to tell someone in a timely manner is very slim. The bottom line is you teach people how to treat you.

sarah September 18, 2009, 8:31 AM

There are all sorts of legal implications now days. As an education major, we’ve been told to never get involved in breaking up a fight, just get security, as teachers have been sued for breaking up fights, being implicated for hurting the kids when all they were doing was trying to stop it. So yes, the bus driver should have driven the the police station or something of that sort, but it’s not like he can do much without bringing possible legal trouble on himself.

Barbara Wright September 18, 2009, 10:20 AM

That happened to me in my Junior year of high school. These were predominantly middle class white kids—but the MEANEST around.

My batterer was a black girl though in foods class. All the other kids laughed and made fun of me cause I didn’t fight back. The TEACHER told me I needed to grow up. She allowed this slapping to happen the whole 45 minute class period.

Hmmmmm September 18, 2009, 2:27 PM

wow, when something happens to white folks and the disgust is thru the roof. but when it happens to black folks, its time to sit down and shut up and stop whining. while this kid was attacked, it was absolutely NOT racially motivated. he aggravated a wild-acting kid. PERIOD. and as someone else pointed out, the kids laughing and cheering were of varying backgrounds, so to keep calling this about race is just making it more than it is.

my thing is this, white folks sure can dish it, but boy…they can’t take it. *i am in no way saying this child deserved this, but there have been so many assaults and MURDERS of helpless or innocent black people and where was the white outcry of sympathy then*….yeah, i’ll wait


Anonymous September 19, 2009, 1:03 AM

Why is it when it’s white on black, it’s ALWAYS racism. But when it’s black on white, it’s NEVER racism????

Abby September 21, 2009, 5:57 AM

WTF is right. 1st what the hell was the bus driver doing? Kids should not be standing up & if they are the driver should pull over and walk front to back to make sure everything is ok!2nd when the kids that were suspended for laughing and cheering get back they should spend some time in detention doing nothing or labor for the school.

Tiffany September 21, 2009, 9:45 PM

As a parent, this makes me ANGRY!!! I spend most of my time teaching my child how to “be smart” and resolve conflict without violence. There is no excuse for this behavior. They were like a mob of animals getting more excited as the brutality goes on. That poor kid! Their parent’s should be ashamed of themselves!!

BahamaBabyfah February 18, 2011, 11:01 PM

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