School Bus Safety: One Mother's List of Demands

school busI don't know what it is about the back of a school bus that makes kids go all "Lord of the Flies" crazy, but it's been a tough scene since I was a kid. Since my parents were kids, in fact, and if there was ever a horse-drawn school buggy, I'm sure the kids on that thing got the stuffing pummelled out of them, too.

So I'm not surprised that to hear that yet another kid, this time a 13-year-old girl in Florida, was beaten unconscious while riding the school bus. I'm saddened, but not shocked to learn that the bus driver tried to stop the brawl twice before pulling over to get help, by which point the girl already had a concussion.

But I am slightly (pleasantly!) surprised to hear that the group of 12 to 15 year-olds (5 girls and 2 boys!) who knocked the poor kid out have been arrested and will face serious consequences.

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I'm not usually one for harsh juvenile punishments, but what happened to that kid and what happens to so many other students on school buses is really, really scary.

And that's why I don't want my own kids to ride the bus in middle school or high school until some serious changes are made. And not just any changes.

Posting "Guidelines for Acceptable Student Behavior" inside buses, for example, isn't gonna do a dang thing. Neither is installing security cameras or trying to encourage kids to be empathetic using positive reinforcement techniques.

The measures taken need to be both tangible and focused on prevention if they're going to work. (Remember, the girl in Florida already had a concussion by the time the bus driver pulled over.)

There are only two ideas I've heard so far that I honestly believe could help put a stop to school bus violence:

  • Assigned seats. Think back: The politics of back-of-the-bus seating arrangements are vicious. Apparently disputes over where a person can or can't sit are responsible for a fair amount of bus brawls.
  • Another adult -- besides the driver -- on the bus at all times. How can the guy behind the wheel realistically be expected to keep the peace and get everyone to and from school in one piece? Two squabbling kids in the backseat of a car is enough to make me swerve in traffic. Bus drivers should be required to drive the bus, and that's it.
  • A zero tolerance policy. One strike -- meaning one incident of physical violence -- and you're out (expelled, arrested, whatever it takes).

How do you think we can put a stop to school bus violence?

 

Image via Heather/Flickr

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