That’s the mantra of “Stand for the Silent”, an organization started in 2010 by a group of Oklahoma State University students to combat the ever-increasing problem of bullying. The mission of “Stand for the Silent” is quite simple, but crucial: to make communities aware of the effects of bullying, the devastation it can cause and that every single person is of value. In the six years of its existence, the organization has spoken with more than one million children, adults and school faculty members while developing local chapters throughout the United States.
Each school day, 160,000 students stay home to escape bullying. — National Education Association
Lessons taught by Stand for the Silent match First Student’s way of life and training philosophy. A safety mantra we teach to our employees is “See Something, Say Something.” It’s a maxim founded on the idea that we should speak up whenever anything seems unsafe; a philosophy taught to our student riders to say something should dangerous or unsafe behaviors happen on the school bus. Marty Belville, a First Student area safety manager, helped found the “Crusaders Against Bullying”, a local chapter of Stand for the Silent, in February of 2015. As vice president of the chapter, Marty knows first-hand the effects of bullying as he has seen varying forms in his thirteen years in the school transportation industry. His start as a driver for a special needs bus route led him to his current position and toward his involvement in bullying awareness.
Marty’s knowledge and involvement in Crusaders Against Bullying benefits everyone in the communities he serves. First Student drivers at our Glen Rock location turn to Marty when questions about rider behavior arise. Working together with drivers, he helps them recognize key bullying characteristics and develops a strategy to combat any issues. Marty says, “I know that, as a driver, it can be difficult to see everything that goes on behind you inside the bus, but please if you see something happening, say something immediately, because you may be the person that changes a child’s life just by showing them that you cared enough to do something for them.”
Bullying programs decrease bullying by up to 25%. — Congressional Research Service
Marty’s passion reaches our customers as well. He visits schools to teach students about what bullying is – both in school and online – what they can do when they see bullying happening or are a victim themselves and the resources available to them so students know they are not alone. When Marty works with drivers and students to combat bullying, he reminds them that it’s not just the physical abuse that matters, but “Mental abuse is harder to detect and, in most cases, does the most damage to a child to the point that they become detached from everyone and everything. If ANY abuse is caught early, a child’s life can be changed by someone who shows them that they do matter and that they ARE SOMEBODY.”
At the heart of all of Marty’s work is the First Student tagline: Caring for students today, tomorrow, together.® As an area safety manager, Marty ensures students have a safe place to be themselves each day by having a driver who positively impacts their life. It’s a principle promoted from the first day of driver training — making sure students know they are not alone, that they have a support and that we care about more than just getting them to school on-time. The mantra of Stand for the Silent — “I Am Somebody” — is exactly why our First Student teams do what they do; every student is somebody and our teams take great pride in making sure students feel safe, secure and protected.