Lisa Taylor is an Area Manager with Student Transportation of Canada, which is part of Student Transportation, Inc., one of the leading school bus providers in North America (www.RideSTbus.com). We sat down with Lisa for an interview on the facts behind Bullying on Buses.
Is bullying as big an issue on school bus runs? What is the deal with bullying on buses?
Bullying can be an issue but the more we talk about it and make the kids aware then the less incidents we are having. Also, we are encouraging students on the bus to bring any behavior that one is uncomfortable with to someone’s attention. This can prevent things from getting out of hand and becoming significant problems.
Has Bullying on Buses increased or decreased in the past years?
With our training and anti-bullying initiatives, bullying has seemed to decrease on the bus.
Would bullying on buses be more verbal or physical?
It is more verbal on the bus.
The drivers are focused on the road and safety – if there is bullying on the bus what can they do?
With the drivers focused on the road they have to rely on the students at times to help them be their eyes and ears at the back of the bus. Sometimes the driver may not know what happened but he or she is aware that something occurred so when they put in the bus report they then have to rely on the school to get to the bottom of it.
If there is an issue – is Bullying on Buses reported to the school, or parents or both?
If something had happened on the bus then the school is the one to deal with it and investigate it. The school will communicate with the parents as the role of the driver is to report it to the school and they take over. At times, we will have a manager interact with parents should it be necessary.
What steps have you taken to improve child safety on your bus routes? what have you done to combat Bullying on Buses?
Kids can’t necessarily “avoid” bullying but through our in depth training programs we have our drivers establish a “positive bus environment” which mitigates bullying on our buses. We train drivers to interact with kids and build trust, encourage students to be good citizens while also having our drivers establish rules and behavior expectations. We are starting to post “Anti-Bullying Rules” on our buses which include phrases such as “Students on this bus do not tolerate bullying”, “We will not bully others”, “We will tell bus drivers if someone is getting bullied”, etc.
We also have a Student Awareness Program or our A.W.A.R.E. Program as we’ve dubbed it which informs students that: Adult help is here so seek it out; Watch for signs of bullying; Always stick together; Respect others including yourself; Ears – listen to what is going on around you and show you care.
We also have implemented Anti-Bullying measures for our drivers which include: intervening immediately, talking to bully and victim individually, consulting with school personnel (principal, teachers, other drivers), offer reassurance to victim that action is being taken and they are safe, inform parents through a manager ASAP of the occurrence.
Has there been a positive impact?
There has been an incredibly positive impact with fewer instances of bullying and a much more harmonious ride to and from school on our buses. With school buses serving as the first and last school function for millions of school children every school day, our efforts to restore and maintain safe, calm environments on the school buses sets the stage for restoring everything in between.
Is there any advice you would give to a child who is being bullied on a school bus?
We try to suggest that victims of bullying document what happens and then share that with the appropriate parties (principal, teacher, parents). We also convey to kids the difference between “tattling” which is when someone is trying to get someone IN trouble and “reporting” which is when someone is trying to get someone OUT of trouble.
Any other advice or comments on this topic?
My advice is to keep talking about bullying and the more aware everyone is then the better off everyone will be. I really hope one day we can put a stop to it. As the drivers communicate to the students that bullying will not be tolerated on the buses, the incidents become less and less.