Bullying is a fundamental problem in almost every school environment. There are chances that children are being bullied by their peers at school. It has become a growing concern for parents, teachers, and students.
School buses, unfortunately, are one of the top places where bullying frequently occurs. Think about it: with fewer adults around and the bus driver focused on the road, children see the bus as an opportunity to pick on other kids because they know they’re not being watched. The bus driver is too focused on the road to monitor everything behind him and intervene as needed. Drivers are also not familiar with every student’s personality as teachers are, which also puts them at a disadvantage.
There are still plenty of bullying incidents that go unnoticed by the school and parents.
Bullying is still a significant issue that needs to be addressed so that the bullied kids and the kids doing the bullying don’t suffer the aftermath throughout their lives. The effects of bullying on both parties can be irreversible if they’re not addressed promptly. For the bullied kids, in particular, it could be a lifelong trauma. They risk suffering depression, low self-esteem, isolation, aggressive behavior, and, in extreme cases, suicidal tendencies.
How to tell if a child is being bullied?
In many situations, what seems like innocent and good-natured antics could be abusive behavior.
For bus drivers, it’s essential to identify the following signs of bullying:
- Kids forcing another student to sit further back in the bus.
- Several kids are ganging up on another kid, either verbally or physically.
- A specific student who always wants to sit near the front of the bus.
- Signs of abuse like torn clothes, missing buttons, bruises, and cuts.
- A student who is silent or hesitant to discuss what has happened both at school and on the bus.
- Students who are crying when leaving the bus.
- Students who try to walk, instead of taking the bus, when going to and from school.
For the parents, children who are picked on don’t always feel comfortable telling you or other adults about it or asking for help. But parents are known for having a particular intuition – their instincts tell them that something bothers their child. For the parents, here are the indications that your child may be bullied:
- They are afraid to ride the bus or go to school.
- They may come up with excuses to avoid school, such as faking illness or not feeling well.
- They may be silent or hesitant to talk about what has happened at school and on the bus.
- They arrive home from school with torn clothes, missing buttons from their clothes and bags, or missing possessions.
- They come home from school crying.
- They may show signs of physical abuse, such as cuts and bruises.
- They may lose interest in school.
- A sudden behavior change, such as appearing sad, depressed, or moody, especially when they come home from school.
- They suddenly begin to do poorly in school or have failing grades.
Tips for school drivers to stop bullying
- As a school bus driver, introduce yourselves to the students immediately and get to know all their names. When students know you, they’re less likely to make any trouble. Furthermore, they will show you respect as they recognize you as an authority.
- Establish rules inside the bus, and make sure that every student on board understands those rules. Post copies of the rules and regulations on the bus for all students. It also helps if you present these rules verbally.
- If bullying occurs inside the bus, you should implement assigned seating, which could be for all students or just for the kids who do the bullying. This way, it will ease tensions.
- When you see a bullying incident inside the bus, you should immediately report it to the school authorities at your earliest convenience.
Things parents can do to protect their children from being bullied.
- Bullied children aren’t always vocal with their parents (or other adults) about what they’re going through. So, they’re usually hiding it out of fear. That’s why it’s essential to communicate with your child regarding bullying. Without open communication, you won’t know whether or not your child is being bullied.
- If your child does tell you that they’re bullied, listen calmly. Offer your child comfort and support by saying you’re there to stand for them.
- Praise your child when they do the right thing by telling you about being bullied. Remind them that they are not alone, as many other kids get bullied at some point.
- Teach your child to be proactive when bullying occurs. Even though you would stand up for your child, you may not always be there for them. That’s why teaching them how to deal with bullying by themselves is important.
- When you learn that the bully finds out that your child has told anyone of the bullying or threatened your child with physical harm, take it seriously. Sometimes, it helps to talk with the bullying child’s parents. In most cases, it’s best to approach teachers or counselors first. But if you still want to speak with the bully’s parents, it’s best to do it in the presence of teachers or any school official so that they can mediate.
Parents of children engaged in bullying should do the following actions:
- Educate your children about bullying. Since children may not know yet what’s right or wrong, they may not know what they’re doing is hurtful. Remind your children that bullying can have severe consequences, including legal ones.
- Make your home “bully free.” Children are like sponges – they tend to pick up behavior easily from adults, especially from their parents. When children are exposed to a highly restrictive environment or aggressive behavior, it makes kids more prone to bullying at school. Parents, guardians, and caregivers should be positive role models for the children in their relationships with them and others.
- If your children get mean to the other kids, it may have to do with self-esteem issues. Yes, bullying kids can also experience low self-esteem. They often bully to feel better about themselves. Even popular kids at school tend to get mean, too. Parents should address their children’s misbehavior. While disciplining them is the typical option, positive reinforcement is better than negative discipline. Encourage good behavior in your kids. When they do something good, take notice and praise them – it can help build their self-esteem.
School bus drivers impact students’ everyday lives much more than they believe. Parents of bullied children and parents of children involved in bullying have to be a part of the solution, too. With some observation and proactive intervention, they can work together to stop bullying before it gets out of control. Once these actions are implemented, children will feel much safer riding the school bus. Learn more about ways to stop bullying. If you are ready to start your career as a Pennsylvania school bus driver, check out the available jobs at School Bus Hero.