Bullying on the bus: Prescott-area districts say zero-tolerance, cameras help
Study: Boys are bullied on school buses more than girls
PRESCOTT – A Canadian study that claims to be the first to look into the relationship between bullying how kids get to school found that nearly one-third of boys riding the school bus reported being bullied.
The study, led by an epidemiologist at Ottawa Public Health, examined a sample of 10,272 students in grades 7 to 12.
While that study found a problem, Prescott High School Principal Stephanie Hillig said it just doesn’t happen on her school’s buses.
“For the buses, we have a ‘zero-tolerance’ (policy) for bullying … and students can be removed and have their bus privileges revoked,” she said.
Hillig said the policy, coupled with video cameras on all the school buses, seems to have worked, and the school has had no reports of bullying on the bus this school year.
The Badger Tipline, a texting line, has also helped, she added. “It’s a way to report any misbehavior, bullying, students that are in crisis … it’s any anonymous tipline, and so we can receive any bullying on the bus (reports)” if students aren’t comfortable speaking up to the driver.
Hillig cites the relative maturity of high school students as a reason why she believes bullying hasn’t been a problem at Prescott High.
Humboldt Unified School District Transportation Director Ken Fox said they don’t see much actual bullying on HUSD buses; he called what typically happens “horseplay.”
“Our drivers stay pretty aware of (bullying), and any situation that may start to arise, they take care of it, pretty quick,” he said.
He agreed that cameras on the buses help keep behavior under control.
“We have a very good Conduct Department, and if there are any issues starting we take care of that. We hardly get any bullying at all.”
When it is seen or reported, the district moves quickly to stop it, he added.
“If we get a report on it, what we’ll do is, we’ll pull the tape and we’ll see what the incident is … and we just address it as we see fit.”
Fox said that could mean contacting the offender’s parents and, in extreme cases, a student may be kept off the bus for a period of time.
“We don’t have a lot of bullying (in general) … it’s mostly just kids giving each other a hard time.” Fox said.
Hillig said the closest thing to bullying — in fact, the only example of an incident this year at all — was a report of two girls getting into a verbal altercation aboard a school bus.
There’s a heightened awareness of bullying overall, Hillig said, and more often lately, students are self-policing it.
“When we do see bullying, we see a lot of kids standing up for the victim,” she said. “They don’t just turn the other cheek. We’re building a different culture here.”