Bullying panel stirs emotions at NAPT Summit

Posted on November 1, 2010
James Jones (center, in yellow) and his daughter Chatari were among the speakers during Monday's panel focusing on preventing bullying at school and on the school bus.
James Jones (center, in yellow) and his daughter Chatari were among the speakers during Monday's panel focusing on preventing bullying at school and on the school bus.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A panel held during the NAPT Summit Monday featured Florida father James Jones, who was the focus of media attention in September after he illegally boarded his daughter's school bus and threatened students who allegedly had bullied her.

SBF previously reported on Jones and the incident here. He has since been charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing a school function, and has apologized for his actions.

Attendees at the session expressed appreciation for Jones' newfound dedication to school bus safety and anti-bullying efforts, applauding his comments.

Kevin Jennings, assistant secretary of education and director of the U.S. Education Department's Office of Safe & Drug-Free Schools, gave the general session keynote address before the panel, on which he also served as a speaker. During his address and the panel session, Jennings detailed the Obama administration's efforts to prevent bullying.

Also present at the panel table was Thomas Built Buses essay contest winner Chancellor Coger. Moderator Barry McCahill asked Coger about the types of bullying he'd seen at school. "People need to listen more to what kids have to say," he began. "When I told my teachers," he said, then paused as he began to cry and was unable to finish his sentence.

In a dramatic moment, Jones spoke up. "There are kids like this all over the country and seeing this brings all the feelings back," he said. After that, comments took on a new level of urgency. Jones' daughter Chatari addressed Coger. "It's OK to cry — I cried in all of my interviews, on the Today Show and everything," she said, adding, "Bullying begins and ends with us."

"Bullying is not new, and suicide because of bullying is not new," Jennings said. "What I'm hoping is new is this is the moment in history when we as a country say, 'no more.'"

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