We’ve seen the videos — the YouTube footage of on-bus fights, taunting and teasing. According to a 2013 study by Awareity, 44 percent of students say they have witnessed or experienced bullying on the school bus. The number goes up when it comes to in-school bullying.
School districts all over the nation are seeking ways to prevent bullying in schools and to make the ride to and from school safer. The “No Bus for Bullies” program, developed in partnership with the Montrose School District in Montrose, CO, leads the way to prevent bullying in schools and on the school bus. Carmen Hays, the 2014 First Student location manager in Montrose, developed the program to help her staff focus on making the school bus a safe place where students do not feel threatened and actually enjoy their time on the bus every day. The zero-tolerance policy empowers First Student bus drivers to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to bullying. The program trains First Student drivers to follow five steps when an issue arises:
- Stop – When a serious issue arises, the driver pulls over to the nearest safe area and stops the bus. Drivers will use discretion and consider the safety of the location when determining if and when to stop.
- Listen – The driver gives the student his or her full attention, listens to the problem and repeats the issue to the student.
- Respond – The driver tells the student that he or she will handle the situation, investigate the incident and follow protocol.
- Report – The driver documents the incident, describing the events in detail on a bully incident report. Documentation may also include video or witness statements.
- Follow Through – The location manager, in collaboration with the school administration, then completes the investigation and implements discipline measures. Students with multiple offenses can lose their riding privileges permanently.
The National Education Association reveals that school bus drivers are 36 percent more likely to hear reports of bullying from students and parents than other education support professions. Combine this with the fact that 92 percent of bus drivers feel it is “their job” to intervene in bullying situations and it only makes sense for drivers to become the first line of defense. As part of the First Student family, the transportation administrators and drivers for the Montrose School District are fully committed to providing a safe and reliable journey to and from school each day.
Other districts are taking notice. Since the program’s launch, other school districts have expressed interest in adopting the program, including Pueblo City Schools in Pueblo, CO. The staff at the Montrose School District hopes the success of the program in their district motivates school districts across the country to implement the program and to help even more students feel safe on the bus.
To read the full “No Bus for Bullies” Case Study, please click here.