School Bus Drivers: Protecting Disabled Students From Bullying
published on July 12, 2018 by Sonia Mastros
Bullying is a hot topic at the moment, with many seeing the proliferation of bullying as one of the biggest problems in modern school districts. Administrators are under pressure to cut down on bullying and, in particular, shield disabled students from attacks which they often cannot defend themselves.
While many districts are implementing excellent anti-bullying policies, one area is sometimes overlooked: school buses. Buses can be a hotbed of bullying, and school bus drivers have ample opportunity to prevent it – but only if they’re properly trained and have the support of district administration.
Important Anti-Bullying Tactics for Your School Bus Drivers
1 – Host diversity awareness training
Diversity training is a great first step in anti-bullying because it can make your drivers more aware of the wide variety of children they’ll be transporting on buses. Diversity training offers other benefits as well.
2 - Be willing to stop the bus
If bullying is happening, yelling at the offending student from the driver’s seat may not do much to deter them. A driver should be willing to (safely) park the bus, walk back to the offender, and tell her or him to stop.
3 - Stay in touch with dispatch
If a bully continues to cause trouble, the administrative office should get involved. In many cases, threatening to report them can curtail the bad behavior.
4 - Report all incidents
Don’t let the little things slide. Bullying is a behavior that tends to snowball, and bullies who get away with minor assaults will generally continue to escalate their behavior.
5 - Have a clearly outlined anti-bullying policy with punishments
Drivers shouldn’t have to make up punishments on the fly. Every district should have well-defined policies regarding bullying, and the consequences for engaging in it. This gives drivers more ways to curtail bullying and may make it easier to deal with parents.
6 - Friendly and inspirational reminders to make friends not foes
Hang motivational anti-bully posters in the bus to encourage students to "Be a Buddy, Not a Bully". Reminders throughout every part of a child's day will keep reinforcing the need for everyone to look out to protect each other and prevent bullying before it starts.
7 - Encourage drivers to be involved in IEPs
School bus drivers interact with disabled or special-needs students on a daily basis, so they should be part of those children’s educational plans. Their participation should be encouraged, if not mandatory.
8 - Use cameras if necessary
Cameras on school buses can be controversial, but as part of an anti-bullying push, they’re hard to argue with. They can provide rock-solid evidence of bad behavior if the bully’s parents refuse to intervene.
9 - Put administrative weight behind the driver
Finally, always make your school bus drivers feel like they have administrative support. If they punish a bully or recommend a bully for punishment, that decision should always be supported as long as it’s made in good faith.
Does your district offer bus drivers anti-bullying training? Let’s discuss tactics below!