Parents often say that they will do anything to protect their children, no matter the cost. This is especially so when it comes to bullies. This Alabama mom, however, perhaps took it a bit too far. The physically violent actions she took against her son’s bully landed her in jail last month.
Alabama Mom Thrown In Jail After Beating Up Her Son’s Bully
For anyone who has ever been bullied, you understand all-too-well how horrible it can be. It is traumatizing – sometimes physically-so and always mentally and emotionally. For parents of children who have been bullied, it can be absolutely heart-wrenching watching your child go through it.
Once they are aware that their child is being bullied, most parents will take the necessary steps to do something about it. Usually, this involves contacting the school and making sure that the bully is properly disciplined. Thirty-seven-year-old Nannatt Waldrop from Jefferson County, Alabama, however, decided to take matters into her own hands.
On the morning of Tuesday, September 15, 2021, Waldrop boarded her son’s school bus to confront the child she believes was her son’s bully. The confrontation quickly turned physical and ended with Waldrop beating up the child. Students were quick to upload videos of the incident to the internet and authorities arrested Waldrop later that morning, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office. (1)
Jefferson County deputies arrived on the scene quickly where they found many distraught children, one being the suspected bully who Waldrop had physically hurt. By 8:34 am, the authorities had her booked into the county jail. They released her at 11:35 am with bonds of $10,500.
The authorities have charged her with third-degree simple assault, trespassing on a school bus, and disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace/affray. Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin made it clear that any adults who are not school employees are prohibited from getting on the county’s school buses. This is where the trespassing charge comes from.
“While this is now a law enforcement matter, let me just say what I saw on that video deeply disturbs me,” said Dr. Gonsoulin. “At no point is any type of violence acceptable, especially violence against students.” (2)
What Will Happen Next
The authorities did not release any information on the status of the young boy who Waldrop beat up. So far, they have not said anything about whether or not he sustained any injuries. At the time of the incident, authorities made it clear that there was an ongoing investigation into the specifics of the altercation.
What To Do If Your Child is Being Bullied
First things first, you need to realize it. Though sometimes a child may directly come and tell you, often they won’t. Instead, they’ll make up reasons as to why they can’t go to school that day. They might say they aren’t feeling well, or perhaps they will start talking about how much they dislike school when they’d always enjoyed it before. (3)
Talk to your child often, whether you suspect bullying or not, about their social situation. The older they get, the more direct you can be. As you listen to what they’re saying, be sure to keep your own emotions at bay. They need a stable listener, not someone who is going to get angry or upset.
“Establishing good communication should start well before the kids are having bullying problems,” says Dr. Steven Pastyrnak, Division Chief of Psychology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “Keep it very general for the younger kids, but if you suspect a problem or if your child has vocalized a problem, press for more details.”
Dr. Pastyrnak says kids and teenagers don’t need someone who will overreact. They need to see that you are strong and stable enough to actually help them. Next, you can take steps forward with your child to solve the problem.
How To Help Your Child Prevent Bullying
Help your child brainstorm a list of responses that they can use when their bully starts picking on them. It is important that these are not put-downs, but rather phrases to neutralize the situation. Put-downs will only aggravate the bully and make the situation worse.
Instead, have them use phrases such as “Yeah, whatever”, “leave me alone”, “back off”, and “that wasn’t nice”. Roleplay various situations that your child may encounter so that they can practice using these responses. Teach them not to cry or whine, which will only bolster the bully, but rather to speak in a strong, clear voice.
Teach your child how to use body language to protect themselves, as well. Standing up straight and looking their aggressor in the eyes rather than looking down or making themselves smaller. Have them practice making happy, sad, and brave faces, then have them practice turning on their “brave” face.
Check in with your child regularly to make sure they are okay and that the situation is not getting worse. Encourage your child to continue with activities that will build their confidence, such as joining teams, musical or theatre groups, clubs, and other positive activities. Reinforce positive behavior and qualities.
Praise them when they tell you they stood up to their bully. Teach them how to handle when someone says something mean to them and how to not let it affect their self-esteem. Help them learn ways to diffuse a bully’s tactics. Encourage them to report the bullying to their teachers.
Finally, if the bullying becomes severe, go with your child to teachers, principals, or other adults involved to report the abuse. Document everything and keep records. If necessary, seek the help of outside resources. This could be a family therapist, the police, or others. Most importantly, however, is that you don’t engage with your child’s bully. This will only make the situation worse for them, and if you engage in the way that Waldrop did, it could be even worse.
Keep Reading: Should Schools Fine the Parent of a Bully?
- “Mom jailed after fight with 11-year-old student on Jefferson County school bus caught on video.” AL. Carol Robinson. September 15, 2021.
- “Ala. woman accused of assaulting 11-year-old on school bus.” NBC15. Nick Viviani. September 16, 2021.
- “How to Deal With Bullies: A Guide for Parents.” Parents. Stacey Colino, Laura Broadwell, Corinne Schuman, Suzanne Peck.