Supporters rally behind Halifax bus driver Heather Vidito, fired for swearing

A Halifax bus driver has been fired for cursing at violent students on her bus.

When a fight got out of hand at the back of her bus, Heather Vidito intervened, yelling "get the f-ck off now" to the students who were being egged on by their peers.

"Sit your ass down," she shouted. One of the boys then started swearing at her.

A video of the incident has since been taken off YouTube, but CBC News still has excerpts of the incident.

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"It's clear that everyone in the video is acting inappropriately, both the students and the driver," Doug Hadley, Halifax regional school board spokesman, said Thursday. "From our standpoint, the students have faced consequences for their actions, and we also expressed our concern to Stock Transportation about the driver's actions and her use of language."

By Friday morning, just as news broke of Vidito's firing, more than 1,700 people had joined a Facebook group in defence of Vidito.

"Voice your support for our bus driver who was only doing her job and protecting the children in a tense situation," wrote the group's administrators.

The group was started by Hollie Quick, the parent of a student on one of Vidito's other routes.

"She reacted the way most of us would react in that kind of situation. Yes, she did drop the F-bomb, but that word is heard a lot in junior high and high school. I don't think it's anything they haven't heard before," Quick told CBC News, adding that she was thrilled to see so many Canadians supporting the fired driver.

"It was a very tense situation and she had to react," she said. "I just think that if anyone was in her shoes, they have to think about how they would react. And in the end, everyone is safe."

Some supporters question what would have happened if Vidito had not intervened.

"Heather Vidito not only deserves her JOB BACK, she should be offered PAID time off under STRESS LEAVE, as well as FREE counselling to help get her through this difficult time. If she's anything like me, also a bus driver, her job probably meant the world to her!" Colleen Tayler, a Fredericton bus driver posted on Facebook.

Vidito's frustrating story follows that of Karen Klein's, the bullied bus monitor subject to merciless taunts by abusive students. Americans and Canadians alike rallied around the bullied woman, calling for greater anti-bullying initiatives.

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While Vidito's language was no doubt unacceptable, to punish her from intervening might be sending students the wrong message: that they can get away with bullying and violence. If she hadn't intervened and a student was seriously injured, wouldn't she have been equally, of not more so, vilified for her lack of intervention?

Which is worse, having a bus driver use a few inappropriate words to indicate she won't tolerate violence, or having a bus driver too scared of the consequences to stand up to young bullies?