The horrific beating of a 13-year-old school bus passenger by three 15-year-olds in Pinellas County, Fla., has sparked heated media coverage recently. It seems that most of the ire has been aimed at school bus driver John Moody, with many observers suggesting that he should have done more to help the victim.
The uproar raises a few nagging questions in my mind:
1. Should we assume that the situation would have gotten better, and not worse, if the driver had tried to physically intervene?
2. Can those who criticize the driver honestly say that, if they were in his shoes, they would have stepped in to try to stop that savage attack?
3. Why is a 64-year-old school bus driver getting lambasted over something that three 15-year-old students did?
The attack apparently stemmed from events at school earlier that day. Police said that the victim had reported to school officials that at least one of the suspects had tried to sell drugs to him in a restroom.
"At the end of the day, both victim and suspect rode home on the same school bus," the Gulfport Police Department said in a news release. (It should be noted that that was not Moody's call, and his lawyer told CNN that the driver had no knowledge of what had happened at school.)
After the assault erupted, Moody stopped the bus and radioed dispatch for help, and Pinellas County Schools officials have said that he followed district procedures. Drivers are reportedly advised to only physically intervene if they determine that it would be safe to do so.
Some student discipline experts told The Christian Science Monitor that Moody handled the situation properly.
"The driver absolutely did the right thing. He did what he was taught to do. He did what was legally correct to prevent a lawsuit,” Warren Stewart, a former teacher and school discipline program leader, told the news source. "That driver did what was right for that situation, because without being able to physically handle it, he could have made matters far worse for everyone."
School bus drivers have many responsibilities beyond driving the bus, but should "bodyguard" be one of them?
— Thomas McMahon, executive editor
| posted on Friday, August 09, 2013 12:18 PM