In a scene from Forrest Gump, classmates laugh as young Forrest boards his school bus. “Seat’s taken,” they say each time he tries to sit down.
Bullying can be as big a problem aboard the bus as it is in schools. Almost 10% of school-related bullying occurs on the bus, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
But bus drivers are a largely untapped resource in preventing bullying. “Some drivers may feel that to report bullying would be to get in over their heads, unless they have the support of the school administration,” says Marc Atkins, president of the American Psychological Association’s Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.
But drivers can play a pivotal role in stopping bullies. The National Education Association recommends these tips:
1. Get to know the students
and learn their names.
2. Be clear and consistent
about bus rules.
3. Remain calm but firm
when confronting a bully.
“The bullying epidemic will stop spreading only with strong leadership and the commitment of all members of the school community, including bus drivers,” Atkins says. “Kids have the right to a safe environment.”