A bus driver in France is facing disciplinary action from his employer after he took disciplinary action of his own against a 12-year-old boy who crossed in front of his bus and nearly caused a terrible accident.
But Fox News reported that a petition is being circulated in support of the driver — who slapped the boy across the face and chewed him out as a parent would do — that has already gained more than 300,000 signatures.
The incident reportedly occurred on Sept. 13 in Arcueil, a suburb south of Paris, during which the driver was forced to slam on his brakes after the young man ran across the street right in front of him toward a crowd of other students waiting at a bus stop.
The driver exited his bus, walked straight toward the pre-teen and slapped him hard across the face as the other students screamed and yelled, issuing a few choice words to the boy prior to getting back on his bus.
The video of the incident was initially posted to Snapchat prior to being posted to other social media sites, and has been viewed on Facebook more than 1.2 million times.
The BBC reported that the driver told the boy to pay more attention to his surroundings to which the boy is reported to have replied, “Shut up, go on, move on,” which is believed to have prompted the slap.
The boy’s mother reportedly filed an official complaint against the driver and the incident caused the Paris transportation authority, known as the RATP, to launch an investigation and disciplinary proceedings against the driver.
The state-owned public transport company said in a statement that they condemned the driver’s actions because they violated the principles and values held by the company, though the company did note that the driver had expressed regret over his behavior, which he blamed on an emotional reaction to a tense situation.
Euronews reported that the petition in support of the driver was started by the driver’s fellow colleagues at RATP, and it asks that the company’s management refrain from firing the driver over the incident.
The petition noted that the driver was forced to “sharply hit the brakes and rough up customers inside” in direct response to the boy’s actions and claimed that the driver had scolded the boy “like any parent would have done,” only to receive insults in return.
The petition also described the driver as being known for kindness, “Olympic calm” and patience, who’d only reacted to the boy’s insults as he did out of overwhelming emotion after the exceptionally close call of the boy running in front of his bus.
A local authority in the region where the incident occurred, Valérie Pécresse, urged the disciplinary council to “be indulgent towards the Arcueil bus driver who was a victim of provocations and insults.”
“He should not have raised his hand on a schoolchild and regretted it, but he has mitigating circumstances,” said the president of the Ile-de-France region in a post to Twitter.
This driver probably should have refrained from striking the young boy across the face, particularly in front of other students, and nobody is condoning his actions — for which he has apologized and expressed regret.
However, we can certainly empathize with the driver in that moment fraught with tension, after a boy ran in front of his bus and nearly caused a terrible accident. The boy’s decision to then provocatively insult the driver seems to have prompted a well-deserved scolding for his inconsiderate and dangerous behavior.
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