James Olander Peace was charged with felony injury to a child following a physical confrontation with a 12-year-old boy.

By Rebecca Macatee
February 20, 2019
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Deer Park Police Department

February 20, 2019

No parent wants their child to be the victim of bullying, and when it does happen, it's easy to see how emotions run high and tempers flare. That doesn't mean, though, that adults have a free pass to behave as badly as the bullies, and if they do, they're going to have to face grownup consequences for their actions.

Just ask James Olander Peace, a man in Deer Park, Texas, who was arrested after allegedly slapping a 12-year-old boy that he believed was bullying his stepdaughter. According to ABC 13, Peace was charged with felony injury to a child. He has since apologized for the confrontation and admitted he should've handled the matter differently.

It all started last week when Peace got a call from his stepdaughter asking for him to come pick her up. According to Peace's wife, who wishes to remain anonymous, this happened after a 12-year-old boy and his classmate were bullying her daughter as she walked home from school. "Saying that her body was ugly, said that she was a transvestite, started throwing ice cream at her and then they picked up the rocks," the girl's mother told ABC 13.

Peace came to pick up his stepdaughter, and on the drive home, they happened to see the alleged bully and his friend. According to Deer Park Police Lt. Chris Brown, "That's when the stepdad decided to stop and confront the kid."

Peace said that while he knows there's a process to report bullying to the school, he still wanted to confront his daughter's classmate directly.

"I went up and talked to him and he kept running his mouth," he told ABC 13. "If he was talking to me like that, imagine how he was talking to her."

Part of the encounter was captured by nearby surveillance video obtained by investigators. Lt. Brown said it shows how the 12-year-old boy "was slapped across the face with an open hand, had red marks and swelling to his cheek and upper jaw."

Peace's wife said that while he was trying to stick up for her daughter, that doesn't excuse his behavior. "I do not agree with what he did," she said. "He took it too far, he did."

The stepfather said he "[wishes] I could go back and change it," and he regrets getting physical with the boy.

"I am sorry for that," he said. "I wish I would have approached it differently."

Anti-bullying experts would agree that a drastically different approach was needed in this situation. The fact that Peace's stepdaughter felt comfortable talking to him about the alleged bullying is a good thing, though, and parents should encourage their children to talk about any problems they're having with other kids.

When there's repeated harassment or bullying taking place, parents should talk to their child's teacher and potentially make administrators aware of what's happening as well. Many schools have specific protocol for intervening.

If your child is being bullied, you can also contact the offender's parents. This needs to be done in a non-confrontational way, making it clear that your goal is to resolve the matter together. If talking to this child's parents isn't effective and you don't feel like there's a solution within the school, take advantage of outside community resources that can help deal with the problem.

And as much as we can tell our kids how to react to being bullied, they're really paying attention to what we do. In other words, if you lose your temper, raise your voice or take a swing when you're faced with a bully, there's a good chance your child will react in the same way. Lead by example, and remember cooler heads prevail—in life and on the playground.

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