Bullying on the school bus - a call for action
A new report published today calls for greater vigilance on dedicated school buses after figures reveal that journeys on the dedicated school bus can be a catalyst for bullying.
The Vodden Report (download here) highlights that many incidents of long term bullying start on the school bus and currently not enough is being done to protect and support victims of bullying in this environment.
The report was produced by Paul Vodden, with support from The Diana Award, a charity set up to empower young people to tackle social issues using a peer-led approach. Paul tragically has first-hand experience of the devastating effects that bullying can have. On the 12th December 2006 his 11 year old son Ben took his own life after being bullied on the dedicated school bus.
Paul Vodden says:
"The situation on the dedicated school bus is by its nature potentially problematic as far as bullying is concerned. Children are placed on a school bus in a group over the composition of which they have no choice. There is no formal supervision and virtually no opportunity of avoiding conflict situations. This report reveals that the school bus journey is a potential environment for bullying which can quickly escalate and there is a lack of support for victims - this needs to be urgently addressed."
- 30% of respondents said that bullying started on the school bus.
- 15% said that the bus driver was aware of the bullying. The results show that in 43 incidents the bus drivers knew that bullying was taking place but took no action and an appalling 17 reports stated that the driver joined in.
- Year 7 is the most likely year for bullying to start.
- 33% felt they didn't know where to find help or support when experiencing bullying.
- 9% were so negatively affected by bullying that they considered suicide.
- A significant proportion of bullying is long-term - with 35% of respondents saying the bullying they experienced went on for over a year.
- 47% didn't know if their school has an anti-bullying policy - despite the fact that all schools are required to have one.
The report outlines some key recommendations which local education authorities are being urged to consider:
- Properly managed volunteer chaperones or peer mentoring schemes for monitoring behaviour on school buses. Have 'bus buddies' (older students) on board dedicated school buses to support younger students.
- Trained supervision on all dedicated school buses to ensure that bullying incidents are dealt with efficiently and effectively.
- Training of school bus drivers - so they know what to look out for, how to deal with bullying incidents, where to get support and, importantly, how to avoid becoming part of the problem.
- All schools are required to have 'best practice' policies for bullying - including guidelines on how to recognise it and how to deal with it. Specific policies for school bus bullying should be included in a school's overall bullying policy.
- CCTV cameras installed on buses for monitoring behaviour, recording incidents and to act as a preventative measure.
The report is being launched on Tuesday 1st April at the National BUSK Transport Safety Conference. Peter Bradley, Kidscape's Head of Services, will be chairing the conference.
Read the report
- The Vodden Report (pdf)
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