Handling Bullying on School Buses

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email

HARRISONBURG -- The beating of a 13-year-old boy on a bus is capturing the attention of the nation, after a school bus driver did nothing to intervene.

Soon, kids will be going back to school and school bus drivers have to be aware of what to do when handling altercations.

"We're definitely pulling tapes for all sorts of things everyday, whether it's fights, bullying everyday," said Grant Holsinger, the safety training coordinator with the City of Harrisonburg's Department of Public Transportation, which operates the city's school buses.

He reviews tapes like the one captured last month on a Florida school bus.

"The drivers can separate the students, they can call the principals on board when they get on the bus. If it's in the afternoon they can take the bus back to the school and get the students off the bus," said Holsinger.

School bus drivers often times are forced into a corner when bullying happens. In Harrisonburg, they are not allowed to touch students when breaking up fights.

"Even you may be putting your hand on that person's arm to guide them up the seat and that may be considered offensive to a parent or student," said Holsinger.

With four cameras on school buses in Harrisonburg, school bus drivers are able to easily identify if any bullies are riding along.

"We often review incidents and review bus rides to see if there are better ways that we can handle certain incidences," said Dr. Scott Kizner, the Superintendent of Harrisonburg City Schools.

"Fortunately many of our schools have bus assistants. That's something the school system has supported the last few years," said Dr. Kizner.

Unfortunately even they can be bullied, similar to a grandmother who was teased by children she was monitoring last year.

This school year, Dr. Kizner hopes to put an end to bullying on buses by training bus drivers on how to identify kids who are being bullied.

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