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Bullying on the Bus: What are our Responsibilities? Lake Yale Leadership Training Meeting March 29, 2012
The Law – S. 1006.147, F.S. • Signed into law in 2008 • Prohibits Bullying and/or Harassment • Including “on a school bus of a public K-12 educational institution”
S. 1006.147, F.S. (cont’d) • Requires school districts to adopt a policy with 14 specific components (basically the who, what, & how): (g) A procedure for the prompt investigation of a report of bullying or harassment and the persons responsible for the investigation. . . . Incidents that require a reasonable investigation when reported to appropriate school authorities shall include alleged incidents of bullying or harassment allegedly committed against a child while the child is en route to school aboard a school bus or at a school bus stop.
S. 1006.147, F.S. (cont’d) • Requires school districts to adopt a policy with 14 specific components (basically the who, what, & how): (l) A procedure for providing instruction to students, parents, teachers, school administrators, counseling staff, and school volunteers on identifying, preventing, and responding to bullying or harassment If you haven’t gotten it, ask for it!!
First Impressions For many students, the ride to school sets the tone for the rest of their day. If they start their day by being embarrassed or put down by bullying behaviors, that student is not able to come to school ready to learn.
First Impressions For this reason, bus drivers need to be trained and understand it is their responsibility to establish and maintain a positive environment for the students they transport.
First Impressions It is the district’s responsibility to not only train the bus drivers, but also provide them with the tools and support they need to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being to and from school.
First Impressions • Ideally, bullying behaviors are best addressed with a whole school approach, not just a “bus” approach.
Reporting Expectations for Bus Drivers • What is the expectation of bus drivers when students (or parents) inform you of bullying situations? • What should we do and who do we inform or relay the information to?
What you need to know . . . (Half the knowledge is knowing where to find it!) Each Florida school district has a: • Policy prohibiting bullying and harassment • Bullying Prevention Contact (designated by the Superintendent)
What do the statistics tell us? • According to an American Public Health Association’s bullying survey, school buses rank as the number two place for bullying, second only to the playground. • As well, the bus is identified by nearly 25% as the place for serious incidents of bullying.
Why does bullying occur on the bus? • Less supervision • Access (closer proximity) – no place to go • Hectic activity (makes it harder to notice)
Signs to look for • Fear of riding the bus (may also include fear of waiting at bus stop, getting off the bus, etc.) • Change in behavior or mood • Aggressors trying to manipulate a situation to get the target in trouble
What can we do? 1.Establish consistent expectations for all, with consequences for misbehavior well-known and enforced 2. Teach about bullying behaviors
What can we do? 3. Maintain strong lines of communication – Bus driver to school School to parents/students * Report daily to the school contact – a bad experience can affect the whole day for some kids!
What can we do? 4. Bus drivers need to be prepared to de-escalate the aggression. * If we handle the low-level aggression promptly we can usually prevent it from becoming more serious!
What can we do? Build positive relationships and communicate with our students and their parents.
Other considerations . . . • Have assigned seats (change them when bullying is suspected) • Add another adult/monitor (either a paid staff or possibly a volunteer) • Pull over and intervene immediately
What about cameras? • May serve as a deterrent • Won’t work alone • Could possibly serve to document the incident
Tips for Bus Drivers To Intervene in Bullying ✔ Learn about bullying so you know what you’re looking for. ✔ When you see something, do something—be assertive and calm. ✔ Start with verbal warnings. Use the name of the student who is bullying. ✔ Call your school or dispatcher according to policy. Sometimes the call will stop the behavior. ✔ If the behavior escalates, stop the bus in a safe place if you have to. ✔ Maintain control of yourself. ✔ Stand up and speak, clearly and calmly, to the involved students. ✔ Do not argue with or try to convince the student who is bullying. ✔ Move affected students to new, safe seats. ✔ Report incidents as required by your district’s policy. ✔ Talk to other school staff about what you’ve witnessed. Share your concerns about the students you drive, since they interact with the same students during the rest of the day. Source: US Department of Education Safe and Supportive Schools Center
Tips for Bus Drivers (cont’d.) To Prevent Bullying ✔ Establish a positive atmosphere on the bus. Be clear, fair, and consistent about rules. ✔ Treat students the way you want to be treated and the way you want them to treat each other. ✔ Learn and use their names. Introduce yourself. ✔ Get to know all of the students on your bus—including the students who bully. ✔ Use positive, non-verbal interactions—a smile, a nod, a thumbs up, a high five, a pat on the back. ✔ Notice something positive the students do and say something about it to them or someone else where they can hear it. ✔ If you regularly drive for a group like a sports team or club, get to know what they do. Go watch them in action and say something to them about it. ✔ Submit positive bus referrals. Source: US Department of Education Safe and Supportive Schools Center
Training Modules (Two modules jointly created by NAPT, the USED’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools and the Safe and Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Center) Both modules include a step-by-step trainer’s guide, a PowerPoint presentation (in PDF format), handouts for driver activities, palm cards for drivers and posters that can be displayed in the transportation department or throughout the school system to reinforce the messages. https://netforum.avectra.com/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=NAPT&WebCode=bullying
Training Modules (cont’d.) • The first module, titled "See Something. Do Something: Intervening in Bullying Behavior," will teach drivers what does and does not constitute bullying, how to respond to the behavior on or around the bus, and specific strategies for addressing and reporting bullying as it occurs. • The second module, "Creating a Supportive Bus Climate: Preventing Bullying, focuses on building mutual respect on the school bus. The training will encourage drivers to consider what a supportive bus climate looks like and how it prevents bullying; and learn and commit to perform simple, concrete strategies to build positive relationships on the school bus.
Additional Resources • The Peaceful School Bus Program - A whole-school program that's designed to decrease inappropriate behavior on buses while creating a climate of respect and cooperation. www.hazelden.org/web/go/peacefulschoolbus • Take A Bully Intervention Course Online www.bullying.org/ • Bully Free Program – 5 hours of anti-bullying training on three high-quality DVDs for bus drivers, bus attendants, monitors, etc. http://www.bullyfree.com/bus-program
Questions? Brooks Rumenik Florida Department of Education Director, Office of Safe Schools (850) 245-0749 Brooks.Rumenik@fldoe.org