Driver not charged
Jesus M. Villahermosa Jr. is president of Crisis Reality Training Inc. He has been a deputy sheriff with the Pierce County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Department since 1981.
I can understand why bus drivers in America today feel like it is a no-win situation either way, but take heart in knowing that the final decision by prosecutors reviewing Mr. Moody’s actions was to not file charges of child neglect against him.
Mr. Moody did take action and intervened to help as much as he could have given the limitations of his age, experience and training. I commend Pinellas County Schools for supporting their driver and for having a written policy that actually instructs their bus drivers to do exactly what Mr. Moody did. Take action to seek help, protect the other students on the bus, but don’t physically intervene in the fight.
We need to educate the public by making this incident with Mr. Moody more personal to them. Would the public have been just as enraged if the 64-year-old driver had been their mother or father? Would the prosecutor expect his older father or mother to engage these extremely violent youths that were perpetrating this act of violence? Of course not!
When you speak to someone about this incident, try to get them to empathize with you about the many challenges you face and the fact that almost every violent incident on your bus will probably involve someone younger, faster and stronger than you who is not required to act within a code of ethics or professionalism. When we can start doing that, I believe that the public, and the media, will be more empathetic to the risks that bus drivers are exposed to every day in this country.
Train for reality
It is time that bus drivers started to receive more reality-based training to prepare them for situations exactly like this and the Alabama hostage situation. We as a society are seeing acts of violence being carried out against schools, universities and bus drivers that we would have never fathomed 20 years ago.
Our “reality awakening” is occurring every day in this country, and if the public really wants for us to protect their children as best we can, we need to change the training for our education staff across America.
God bless our school bus drivers for serving in one of the most dangerous jobs in the field of education and for having the best statistics in the country for all modes of transportation. You should be proud of what you do and how you are doing it. Thank you for choosing to be a school bus driver.
Drive safely, stay aware and always protect yourselves and your students as best you can.
Jesus M. Villahermosa Jr. is president of Crisis Reality Training Inc. He has been a deputy sheriff with the Pierce County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Department since 1981. In his consulting business, he has primarily focused on school-related and workplace violence. He has spoken to thousands of pupil transporters around the country on issues related to use of force, breaking up fights and responding to crises on the bus.
This article may not be reprinted without permission of the author. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Crisisrealitytraining.com.