Bullies on the Bus: Raising awareness of bus ride bully issues
For some kids, the worst part of the school day is the ride to or from school on the big yellow bus. Unfortunately, many school districts can only afford to pay a driver and there is no way that driver can properly monitor bus behavior while staying safe on the road. So, although our kids arrive safe at school regularly, that does not mean that they are protected from a bully or two, who have free rein on the back of the bus.
Consider the following if you suspect the bus ride is a terrorizing experience for your kid(s).
1. In a non-threatening way, and when you are not pressured for time, open a conversation with your student about what it is like on the bus for them and for their peers. You may even share a few less than ideal stories of your own days on a school bus to show empathy and understanding.
2. If your student is having trouble on the bus, respectfully open the dialogue about bus ride issues at a local school board meeting.
3. Be willing to be part of a solution. Often, school administration is frustrated by a lack of funding and proper support, making the problem seem unsolvable. If everyone remains solution focused, a positive outcome is more likely. If funding is simply not available for a bus monitor, consider creating a parent volunteer group, where each parent takes one leg of the trip per week and acts as a bus monitor for the school system.
4. If a community approach does not work, coach your student on ways to avoid the situation.
However, be prepared that if the situation is truly bad, and traditional anti-bully measures don't work, you may need to seriously consider an alternative form of transportation. Many of us cannot possibly be our student's sole source of transport due to work and other obligations. So perhaps have a meeting with parents and look at a car-pool group solution.
There are not always easy answers to some of these issues, but ignoring it and not having open discussion with your student can force them into a corner, where they do not feel heard or protected, which is intolerable.