School bus bullying is a growing concern. It is estimated that nearly one in five students is subjected to school bus bullying. For bullies, the school bus is the ideal location for picking on their peers. It’s a small enclosed place with nowhere to run and with so much commotion going on and with dealing with traffic, it would be hard for the driver to notice. This makes students vulnerable to intimidation and physical abuse on the bus. Knowing how to react is the key to eliminating this problem.
There is no doubt that bullying is dangerous – not just physically, but mentally. There are hundreds of cases each year of students taking their own lives due to bullying on and off the bus. Bullying can also disrupt their education by making it hard for them to concentrate on their studies. Students who are being bullied may not be willing to tell an adult what is happening. Their concerns can include being labeled as weak, a tattle-tale or experiencing retaliation. Adults can, however, recognize signs to help them know when children may need help. Bus bullying signs include:
- Fear of going to school or riding the bus
- Trying to miss the bus
- Asking for rides to school or finding excuses to ride with friends
- Ripped clothing, missing possessions, or signs of physical abuse
What can be done to stop this? Students can sit as close to the driver as possible, pair up with a friend to enter, sit with, and exit the bus, tell adults when it happens, and stand up for other students who are bullied. Parents can report incidents to the proper officials, keep the students name confidential to avoid increased bullying, be a good listener and encourage the child to tell adults what’s happening, avoid encouraging retaliation or fighting, and very important, do not blame the child for being bullied.
Schools should have an anti-bullying campaign to handle these cases. Asking for adult volunteers to ride the bus and/or monitor school bus zones and raising money to install security cameras on the buses are just some of the ways schools can combat bullying on school buses. Making the bus ride a fun opportunity instead of a torturous experience is the students, the parents, and the school’s responsibility to make sure our children will have the environment they need to learn as much as they can every day.