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Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.
kid reporter topanga sena with parent and kids Kid Reporter Topanga Sena talks with (from left) Chatari Jones, 13, father James Jones, and daughter Ciara, 24 in their Sanford, Florida home about the fight against bullying. (Photo courtesy Topanga Sena)

Parents Take a Stand

Kids aren't alone in the fight to stop bullying

By Topanga Sena | October 17 , 2011

Across the nation, more and more people are confronting the issue of bullying. And it's not just kids who are standing up to it — it's parents, too.

Last September, one father in Central Florida gained national attention when he stood up for his daughter.

Chatari Jones, 13, was being bullied. Her dad, James, said at the time that he discovered she had been skipping school because of the bullying.

"As a parent, you feel for your kid," James told the Kids Press Corps recently. "I had heard enough and I know my daughter is not a liar and I trust my daughter."

James decided to confront the students who were bullying his daughter, so he boarded the school bus and threatened the alleged bullies as well as the bus driver. After the incident, James was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a school function.

He said at the time he was just standing up for his daughter. But he admitted he should not have done what he did.

"At the time, in the heat of the moment, I did it the wrong way," James told CNN. He also said parents should not follow his example if their kids are being bullied.

In the year since his actions, James has set out to set a better example for parents and kids to follow when confronting bullies. He is now an anti-bullying advocate, and his website BusDad.com offers information and resources for both parents and kids.

Chatari herself has gone from a victim of bullying to an anti-bullying advocate. She is the founder of Nine Words Inc., and she created a hotline number where anyone can call at any time to seek advice if they are being bullied.

"Speak up about it and don't be ashamed to speak up. It's okay," Chatari told the Kids Press Corps.

In a combined effort, James and Chatari have organized a march against bullying in conjunction with her school. They are also organizing OctoberFest, which will be a carnival with an anti-bullying theme. Booths at the carnival will provide prevention tips and information on bullying.

They are also visiting schools in Florida to organize bullying-prevention committees. Students will be voted onto a council at their school that will address general bullying issues and specific cases.

"We have to be a partner against bullying," James said. "Bullying is out there and it's devastating to any parent. You don't want to be a mom or dad that is suffering for your kid."

James and Chantari aren't the only parents and kids dealing with bullying in Florida. Other families have faced it, too. In some cases, bullying and its effects will follow them forever.

This is especially true for Debbie Johnston. Her son Jeffrey was 15 years old when took his own life after being bullied. This lead Debbie to spearhead the effort to pass the Stand Up For All Students Act in Florida. The law was passed in 2008. It requires schools in Florida to report, investigate, and respond to bullying and harassment in schools committed by a student, teacher, or other school employee.

"The bill specifically requires to keep both the student and the student's parents aware of what is being done for that student's protection and what consequences are in place for the student," Debbie Johnston told the St. Petersburg Times.

"As more and more kids stand up to bullying, parents have become active in addressing and preventing bullying in schools and online. Working together is the best way to make sure no one else is hurt by bullies," James said.

"If we stand together and unite, then no matter where we go in the world, we have more strength in numbers," said James. "Nobody can stop us!"

For more information on James Jones and Chatari Jones, visit BusDad.com.

STAND UP TO BULLYING

Kid Reporters are talking to  kids, parents, teachers, and stars about how to prevent bullying and keep it out of kids' lives. Find all of their stories in the Stand Up to Bullying Special Report.

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