300K sign petition supporting bus driver who slapped 12-year-old boy

(Warning: Video contains violence)

PARIS – A French bus driver who slapped a 12-year-old boy who ran out into the road faces disciplinary action—but more than 300,000 people so far have signed a petition supporting the driver (see the petition here; link is in French).

After the driver was forced to brake hard to avoid hitting the boy during the Sept. 13 incident, the driver yelled at him to pay attention; the boy then yelled back, “Shut up, go on, move on,” the BBC reports.

Video of what happened next (the BBC link has it) has gone viral after initially being shared on Snapchat: The driver exits the bus and slaps the boy across the face. The boy’s mother filed a complaint against the driver. But the petition insists he not be fired, noting the boy forced him to “sharply hit the brakes and rough up customers inside” the bus, per euronews.

The Paris transport authority, RATP, has condemned the driver’s actions and launched disciplinary procedures against him; the agency says the driver, himself a father of two teens, has expressed regret for reacting emotionally.

But many on social media have pointed to the boy’s “disrespect” and “bad behavior” in their support of the driver, and the local mayor notes that children often run into the street in the area where the incident occurred, sometimes putting “themselves in danger.”

The petition says the driver initially chided the boy “as any parent would have done,” CNN reports. But the mayor adds that the slap “was neither proportionate nor appropriate. It’s a child.” And France’s transport minister insists that it’s “not normal to slap a youngster.