Guiding youth to lead healthy and safe lives.

Bus Drivers Discuss Bullying In Focus Groups

Stop BullyingCramming lots of kids with pent up energy into the same vehicle after a long day at school results in a regular dose of adventure–and bullying. And don’t our bus drivers know it! They are tasked with keeping dozens of tired, rambunctious kids under control while navigating busy roads to deliver our precious cargo to and from school safely.

Eyes in the back of their heads
Just because their eyes are on the road, doesn’t mean they don’t know what’s going on. They see and hear almost everything. Which is why Dr. James Brown, Indiana University School of Social Work, is conducting extensive research, including focus groups of bus drivers, bus attendants, parents and social workers, in an 18-month study funded by Impact 100 of Greater Indianapolis. The research, in partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools, is evaluating the impact of Social Health’s new Step Up for Kindness! program, which is being delivered to 31,000 youth ages 5-14 from 2014-2016.

Confronting bullying behaviors
The bus drivers and attendants, who share an average of 16 years of experience, suggest that a shift has occurred. School officials don’t seem to have the support of the parents whose child is bullying, making it difficult for school officials to fully implement the policies.

The drivers and attendants believe that bullying is at the same level or worse than previous years.
Another concern is the retaliation of the child or youth who reports the bullying. One bus driver believes the culture of bullying could change if several students stood up to the bully or bullies. This is in line with the Step Up For Kindness!™ lessons strive to achieve.

What to do about it
The drivers employ multiple tactics to calm kids down, including moving students, separating them by gender, giving them praise and even praying. But overwhelmingly, they would most like to get everyone – kids, parents and school staff, including administrators — on the same page and have more consistency in handling bullying incidents.

Stay tuned for the full report, which will be available in the fall 2016. We’ll provide more updates along the way.

Help us guide Indiana youth to lead healthy and safe lives.