Nearly every day there is a news article about bullying aboard a school bus, like the one reported today in Memphis, Tenn. A mother there said her 9-year-old son passed out after being punched in the face during his bus ride home yesterday. Now she wants something to be done.
And she isn’t the only one who is speaking out. Yesterday Lisa Taylor, area manager with Student Transportation of Canada, which is part of Student Transportation Inc. (STI), spoke with NoBullying.com about bullying on school buses and campuses across North America.
Taylor pointed out that bullying on buses tends to be more verbal than physical. Regardless, she stressed that the more educators and parents talk about the issue of bullying, the more it will raise awareness and have a positive impact on students.
“With our training and anti-bullying initiatives, bullying has seemed to decrease on the bus. We are encouraging students on the bus to bring any behavior that one is uncomfortable with to someone’s attention,” said Taylor.
“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 bus drivers may not know what happened, but they are 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,” she noted.
Taylor said STI has educated its bus drivers on anti-bullying measures, including intervening immediately, talking to the bully and victim individually, offering reassurance to victims that action is being taken and they are safe, consulting with school personnel (e.g., the principal, teachers, other drivers) and informing parents through a manager as soon as possible.
“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,” Taylor continued, adding that STI is starting to post “Anti-Bullying Rules” on all of its buses. “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.”
Seon Contributes to the Cause
Seon Design kicked off Anti-Bullying Month this week with the announcement that the company will donate a portion of the proceeds of every bus camera system sold from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 toward anti-bullying education and awareness campaigns like “The Bully Project.” In that time frame, the company expects to raise at least $25,000.
The company will also run a blog series about bullying to raise awareness and provide resources to support anti-bullying strategies. Additionally, Seon is sponsoring a “Bullies Aren’t Cool” coloring contest with a cash prize, Seon teddy bear and anti-bullying medal for the winner.
At the upcoming NAPT Summit in Grand Rapids, Mich., the company will pass out pins proclaiming “No Bullies on My Bus” to school bus drivers, students and others who wish to support this cause.
Terry Akiyama, president of Seon, said bullying is a growing epidemic among schoolchildren, and their school bus cameras capture evidence of it every day.
“This year we wanted to go one step further to help fund community efforts to stomp out bullying,” he added. “Bullying can happen anywhere — in the classroom, on the playground or online, but it often starts on the ride to school. We believe that creating a safe and respectful environment on the school bus can go a long way in preventing bullying.”