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Bus Drivers and Bullying Prevention

Survey Shows Bus Drivers Witness Intervene in Bullying Situations

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Bullying behavior is a growing concern among America’s educators. Bullying is generally defined as repeated aggressive acts intended to do harm, and is characterized by a power or status difference between the students. Bullying includes not only physical aggression such as hitting or stealing, but also verbal aggression, such as threatening , name calling, spreading rumors, socially rejecting and isolating someone, or cyberbullying (where bullies can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet).

Students who have been bullied report feeling depressed, anxious, and isolated. Many have low self-esteem. Their school attendance and performance may suffer. And in some cases, as the nation has seen recently, they are so tormented they take their own lives.

Even though there are many training programs that provide educators with tools to intervene in bullying situations, bullying often occurs outside the classroom, beyond teachers’ reach. One such place is on the school bus.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2006–2007, one-third of U.S. students ages 12 through 18 reported being bul- lied. Of those, 8 percent said they were bullied on the school bus.

NEA has long been committed to bullying and harassment prevention and intervention. For decades, members have received training and resources on how to recognize and intervene in student-to-student bullying situations. In order to assess the opinions of education support professionals as well as teachers on issues relating to bullying, NEA conducted two surveys—one in 2010 and one in 2012. Among the 2,900 ESPs surveyed in 2010, 466 were bus drivers. An additional 419 transportation ESPs responded to bullying questions as part of an overall ESP survey in 2012.

What the Bus Drivers Said

They witness bullying. Bus drivers were more likely than other ESPs to report seeing bullying. More than half—54%—reported witnessing it several times a month. They viewed bullying as a significantly greater problem at their school than did other ESPs.

Students and parents tell them about bullying. In 2010, approximately 40% of bus drivers indicated that a student reported bullying to them within the past month; 21% stated that a parent reported bullying to them. In fact, bus drivers were 36% more likely to hear reports of bullying from students and parents than other ESPs. This is valuable information they can share with all school staff—administrators, teachers, and support professionals—to prevent further bullying.

They feel it's their job to intervene. A significant majority—94%—of bus drivers surveyed reported that it is “their job” to intervene in bullying situations.

They need training on bullying prevention and intervention. Nearly all the bus drivers surveyed reported that their school district has a bullying policy. In 2012, 71% said they received training on that policy, up from 56% in 2010.

They want training on different forms of bullying. More than two-thirds of bus drivers reported that they need additional training on how to address different forms of bullying—physical, verbal, relational, cyberbullying, and sex- ting—and in situations involving children being bullied because of sexual orientation, disability, race, gender, and religion.

They need to be invited/encouraged to join school committees on bullying prevention. Fewer bus drivers than other ESPs reported that their school had formal committees on bullying prevention. In 2012, only 13% of them were involved in bullying prevention efforts.

They are less likely than other ESPs to feel connected to their school community, which influences bullying intervention. Connectedness is the belief by adults in the school that they are regarded as individuals and professionals involved in the learning process. Research has shown there is an important  link between feeling connected to the school and being comfort- able intervening with all forms of bullying among all types of students. The more staff members, including bus drivers, feel connected to their school, the more likely they are to intervene and stop bullying when they see it.

They are likely to live in their school district. NEA surveys find that 81% of bus drivers live in the school district where they work. This means they know the students and their families, and can be an invaluable resource when seeking answers to bullying incidents.

Inform Yourself and Your Association

  • Visit www.nea.org/neabullyfree, a good go-to-source for resources about how to help bullied students and how to prevent bullying in your school.
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  • Request a bullying prevention and intervention training session from NEA at nea.org/neabullyfree under the training link.
  • Ask your school district to provide more training on current policies for bullying prevention and intervention. Work with your local affiliate to ensure these trainings are scheduled at times that are convenient for bus drivers to attend along with other school staff.
  • Make sure bus drivers are involved in bullying prevention teams, committees, and other activities at your school or local affiliate.
  • Download and share the two U.S. Department of Education- funded training modules for bus drivers: how to intervene in bullying incidents and how to prevent bullying by establishing a positive climate on the bus at safesupportiveschools.ed.gov/ index.php?id=9&eid=436
  • Initiate meetings with other staff to share concerns about bullying in general or specific students in particular.

Resources

www.nea.org/neabullyfree
NEA’s official website for the NEA Bully Free: It Starts with Me campaign, which contains links to numerous resources, includ- ing tip sheets and stories, research articles and tools, and bullying prevention and intervention training opportunities.

www.nea.org/home/3207.htm
Education Support Professionals website with links to bullying resources, including the 2010 NEA Nationwide Study of Bullying.

www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.html
Thorough guidance on bullying from the U.S. Department of Education.

safesupportiveschools.ed.gov/index.php?id=9&eid=436  
U.S. Department of Education page containing exemplary, free anti-bullying training materials for bus drivers, such as Module 1: See Something. Do Something: Intervening in Bullying Behavior, and Module 2: Creating a Supportive Bus Climate: Preventing Bullying.

www.schoolbusfleet.com/List/Tag/bullying.aspx
Pupil transportation website containing dozens of current articles related to bullying on school buses, including Bullying is Unacceptable (November 2010) and Tackling School Bus Bullying (November 2007).

www.safeandcivlschools.com/tn_supportstaff.php
Professional development and practical solutions website with specific materials for bus drivers, including Bus Discipline: A Positive Approach [Video] and In the Driver’s Seat: A Roadmap to Managing Student Behavior on the Bus [CD/DVD].

Publications

Bradshaw, C., T. Waasdorp, L. O’Brennan, and M. Gulemetova. 2011. Findings from the National Education Association’s Nationwide Study of Bullying: Teachers’ and Education Support Professionals’ Perspectives. Washington, DC: National Education Association.

deLara, E. 2008. “Bullying and aggression on the school bus: school bus drivers’ observations and suggestions.” Journal of School Violence 7(3):48-70.< /p>

www.apha.org/membergroups/newsletters/sectionnewsletters/ school/spring05/1632.htm

Lang, L. 2005. “No bullies on board: Putting the brakes on school bus bullying.” School Health Education and Services Section Newsletter, American Public Health Association.

Take the Pledge:

Take the pledge to change school climate and let’s make our schools Bully Free!

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