It's likely no surprise that bullying is a big problem today in schools - and on buses. It's important that you, as a Transportation Director, train your drivers so that they know how to respond when/if an incident occurs. That's precisely why we put together this post with important information on how to train your drivers in handling these intense situations.
Crisis prevention experts, school safety professionals and violence intervention trainers all agree: Your campus and pupil transportation staff must be capable of actively listening to students, addressing harassment and bullying in a timely and consistent manner, and defusing tense situations — and if violence does occur, they must be ready to protect themselves and their students. And it begins with knowing your students.
Know your students
The easiest way to recognize potentially dangerous or unwanted behavior is to know your students, according to Dr. Randy Boardman, executive director of research and development at the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI).
Drivers and teachers who address their students by name each day are more likely to recognize unusual behavior. They are also more likely to forge a relationship with a student that could lead him or her to ask for help rather than act out.
Recognize the signs
Knowing your students can help you to better identify changes in mood or manner that might signify a potential outburst or misbehavior. If a student who is upbeat and talkative suddenly becomes withdrawn or sullen, this could be a sign that something is wrong.
Students who are bullied, Boardman says, might begin to overtly challenge their aggressors or withdraw completely.
Look for non-verbal cues
Besides changes in mood or behavior, Brooks suggests that drivers and other school staff look for more overt indicators of potential violence — such as physical cues. Body language, such as clenching of the fists and repeated rubbing of the head or hair, can signify frustration.
Also, the removal of clothing like jackets, sweatshirts or glasses can be a signal. “The removing of the articles is a way that human beings tend to try to deescalate themselves naturally and bring themselves down to a calm state. So when they take off something, they’re trying to shed that emotion, trying to get rid of it,” Brooks says.
Look for verbal cues
A student who is angry or agitated to the point of violence might use forced or strained speech when addressing an authority figure. He or she also might refrain from using profanity before losing control — but then switch to inappropriate, provocative language as he or she becomes more flustered. Parroting or echoing what is said by an authority figure might be another indicator.
If bullying is an issue on your bus, tune in next week for Part 2 of our series on bullying that will detail how to handle the situation.