With the start of 2014-2015 school year in full swing, children across the country will be boarding the school bus to arrive before the morning bell sounds. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school. But how safe is a child from the other children inside of the bus? School bus bullying is becoming a growing concern among parents, school administrations, and bus drivers. According to the U.S. Department of Education 10 percent of school bullying occurs on the school bus. Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
What are the signs of a child being bullied on the school bus?
• Reluctance to ride the school bus
• Repeated occurrences of “missing the bus”
• Asking others to take them to school to avoid the bus
School bus drivers have a very important task, which is to make sure every child on the bus arrives safely to and from school. To prevent or stop school bus bullying, it takes a village (parents, teachers, and bus drivers).
What can you do if a child is being bullied on the bus?
• Listen – It’s not easy for a child to say they are being picked on. When they bring it up, listen.
• Ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question can’t be answered with a yes or no response. Some examples of open-ended questions are:
What happened on the bus today?
How did you feel about riding the bus today?
Who do you like to sit with on the bus?
Who do you stay away from on the bus?
• The buddy system – Have the child sit with a neighbor or friend.
• Have the child being bullied sit on the right front side of the bus. They can be seen in the bus driver’s mirror.
How can the school administrators and bus drivers be involved?
If you feel that more action is necessary, you can contact the school administration and find out what policies are in place for bullying on the school bus. If the school buses have assigned seats, suggest that they separate the children that are being bullied or are bullying others. Also some school buses may have cameras, find out if the child’s bus has a camera that could discourage bullying.
All children deserve to be and feel safe on the bus and at the school. Don’t let a child start their school day off as a victim of bullying. By working to identify and prevent bullying on the bus and at school, they can start and end their school day without fear of being threatened. This will take the joint effort from teachers, parents, bus drivers, and the school administration. It is time to start making a difference, how aware are you?