Bullying can occur anywhere, and it may be even more dangerous when the child is on a school bus and cannot walk away from the situation. Better understanding of school bus bullying can lead to finding immediate helpful solutions that prevent any further harm to the child and hopefully eliminate the situation for other children, as well.
Why Bullies Pick the Bus
For bullies interested in picking on their peers, the school bus is the perfect spot. It can be challenging to supervise so many students at a time, especially if the only adult present is the bus driver. When a child is picked on while riding the bus, he or she has no way of leaving the situation and protecting himself. Because the same children typically ride the bus based on location, bullies can count on targeting certain individuals on a daily basis. This puts students in a vulnerable situation.
Students who are being bullied may not be willing to approach adults for help. There are several common symptoms many such children may display. Keep in mind not all kids react the same way, and their reactions can range from mild to severe.
Fear of going to school or of riding the bus
Making a habit of trying to miss the buss or stalling about riding the buss
Regularly looking for reasons to not ride the bus
Arriving at home or school with ripped clothes, lost or stolen items, or other signs of abuse that are not occurring at school
Panic attacks or symptoms of anxiety occurring prior to boarding the bus or in the mornings only on school days
Dropping hints about a friend who is being bullied or alluding to themselves getting picked on
Avoidance of similar situations, such as riding in cars with a lot of people
How to React to Bullying
School bus bullying can cause a typically happy child to feel down, upset, anxious, and isolated. With the help of bus drivers, parents, and the school, there are many solutions and preventative actions to take that create zero tolerance for bullying.
Some things students can do if they are being bullied on the bus include:
Sit as close to the bus driver as possible and on the right-hand side of the bus so they are visible to the driver.
Pair up with a neighborhood friend and ride the bus together.
Be polite to someone who tries to bully them rather than reacting with anger; fighting back should never be an option and will only make the situation worse.
Tell adults when bullying happens, including parents, teachers, and the bus driver.
Stand up for other students who are being bullied to keep it from spreading.
Clearly define bullying for students, parents, and teachers, and encourage anyone who witnesses an attack to report it immediately.
Immediately remove bullies from school.
Have bullies take mandatory classes on behaving appropriately towards peers and fostering empathy.
Bring in the bully's parents so they can be involved in the process.
Be kind and understanding towards students who report bullying as it can take a lot of courage to do so.
Make sure one adult, who is well versed in the dangers of bullying, provides bus supervision.
The Bus Driver's Role
Bus drivers can also help.
Make it a point to get to know all the students riding the bus so reporting incidents is not an issue.
Foster a positive experience for all students riding the bus.
Be well-versed in the signs of bullying and check in with students who show symptoms.
Encourage students to report directly to bus driver if they do not feel comfortable telling anyone else.
Connect with the parents of the victim and the bully when a student is showing signs of bullying.
It Is Critical to Stop School Bus Bullying
School bus bullying can make school a torturous experience rather than a fun opportunity for learning. By recognizing the signs of bullying, knowing how to react to it, and getting involved in the prevention, parents, students, bus drivers, and schools can make a huge difference in protecting all students.