“It’s a common story. The bus driver is new to the route and unfamiliar with the middle-schooler sitting in the third seat. She doesn’t notice the bullying that the young girl later reports to her mother. The next morning, the mother enters the bus shouting profanities and threats to the driver for allowing other students to victimize her daughter.
“Do not come in here swearing and threatening me in front of the students. You need to exit my bus now!” the driver fires back. Before the mother leaves the vehicle, she spits on the driver. The driver is shaken by the confrontation and wonders how she will safely complete her run. “I didn’t sign up for this,” she whispers before calling in the incident to her dispatcher.
School bus drivers across the nation will tell you the more challenging aspect of the job is not the driving. It’s the human element, the management of youth misconduct, difficult parents, and a lack of school intervention when assistance is needed. A 2018 study funded by the National Institute of Justice, RTI International, and the National Association for Pupil Transportation, found that bullying, profanity, and rule violations are among the most common misconduct behaviors reported by school bus drivers. In addition, drivers must contend with threats, weapons, student fights, sexual harassment, and volatile, intimidating family members.
While not every disruptive behavior leads to violence, any misconduct is a potential threat, as it is a distraction to safe driving. From the driver’s perspective, paying attention to the behaviors of the students aboard the vehicle must take a close second place to focusing on the road. It’s a balancing act that becomes more difficult with students and families whose behavioral issues are more frequent and severe in nature. “
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