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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Never, Ever Piss Off a Mother

Never, ever piss off a mother—especially one who is an editor, a writer, and a former journalist.

Remember the first-grade boy who bullied my first-grader on the school bus? There's a third-grader who apparently gets her jollies by clawing the hands of any kids in her vicinity; she clawed my son on Friday. Yes, if I contact the school again, the assistant principal will track down the scratching girl and have a talk with her and her parents.

But this one-by-one process won't be effective in the long run, because there will always be new or different kids to do the hitting, poking, scratching, and tripping. So my husband and I will be attending the school district's board of education meeting this coming Tuesday night to request that the board either hire aides to ride all district buses or require the bus companies to install video cameras. Many U.S. schools use video cameras like this.

To help make sure that we don't get patted on the head and told to sit down and shut up, I've written a press release that I will be faxing to the area news media tomorrow. If the news media show up, the board members will likely behave better.

I've posted the press release here, redacted for privacy issues.


Stephanie E. said...

That poor kid! It seems you have a solid plan of action. I hope the other parents will stand up with and for you; they need to realize that their children could just as easily be the next ones (or even other current ones) to be bullied. Is there any chance of Jared's teacher attending too, in support?

Unrepentant said...

Good luck to you. Over the years, I've been appalled to learn what goes on with buses and kids' behavior. I've linked to you; my two or three readers might actually see it!

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thanks, Unrepentant and Stephanie.

I haven't heard back from Jared's teacher yet. I suspect that he's out of town on this holiday weekend.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great idea but the bottom line with all organizations is usually budget. Do you think there is any way parents might be willing to volunteer to alternate riding the bus with the kids (ie, volunteer monitors)?

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I've already checked into this. Unfortunately, the school district would be required to run background checks on even volunteer aides.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Under many conditions Little Miss Scratchy Girl probably manages herself adequately, but maybe she really needs external supervision, as it seems her internal supervisor has walked off the job or never showed up for work. A school bus for any age group presents a set of impossible conditions: lots of kids, nothing particular to do, no adult supervision, a sense of daring because the handy adult has a higher priority (driving safely). Oh, and no seatbelts.

Bus drivers could be trained to do what parents often do: any time there is one behavior on the bus that is anywhere near dangerous to anyone or anything, the driver pulls off the road, picks up a book to (pretend to) read, and waits until all is well again.

This requires absolutely no speaking on the part of the driver which is a must; families/kids would have been informed of the policy ahead of time. Not. One. Word.

The first time the bus is late for its next stop, the driver can simply say to the irate parent, "I am sorry, but it was a matter of safety." The rest will take care of itself.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

That's a good idea, Betsy. But I'll bet that the bus companies that employ the drivers would object, as would parents who wouldn't know exactly when their children would get home.

My next-door neighbor did fight with the school board years ago and get them to require the buses to install seat belts, so the opportunity for buckling up is there. But apparently, some law forbids the bus drivers from requiring the kids to buckle up, so the seat belts are mostly unused. Stupidity!

Anonymous said...

You'd think there would be a solution here. Don't parents and/or kids have to sign a code of conduct? A couple of months ago, I was listening to two mothers talking at a soccer match about a 7 year old--7!--who was threatening to kill other kids. Bus driver did nothing, school administrators supposedly shrugged their shoulders until a lawyer turned up. Now a school psychologist rides the afternoon bus with him; I don't know about the morning trip.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Well, yes, Unrepentant, the kids in my son's school do have to sign a code of conduct. But I guess lots of parents haven't taught their children that they have to control themselves and behave well even when their parents aren't around. The bus driver tells the misbehaving kids that he sees to sit down, keep their hands to themselves, and be quiet, but he's supposed to be paying attention to the road in front of him and he can't see all infractions. The bus my son rides carries kids from kindergarten through sixth grade, a dangerous combination of age groups if I ever saw one.

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