First Student Tackles Bus Bullying
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- First Student in Grand Junction is confronting the issue of school bus bullying and is working with School District 51 to solve the problem.
"It's probably my top priority because I want kids to feel safe and welcome on the bus," said Beth Rutter of First Student.
Bullying numbers are actually down from this time last year.
Out of 1,048 discipline slips in 2011, 248 were for bullying.
This school year only 140 discipline slips are projected for bullying.
However, Rutter believes that's because less students are reporting it.
"I think students are afraid to report to anyone, let alone their bus driver, that they're being picked on, that they're being hurt. Sometimes they're even fearful of speaking with their parents," said Rutter.
Rutter also says that not all bullying can be picked up by the bus driver.
She says derogatory names can be whispered, and pinching and poking can take place out of view of the driver.
First Student says they consistently train drivers on how to handle school bus bullies; sometimes it's resulted in assigned seats for problems students or expulsion from riding the bus.
However, First Student and School District 51 officials are hoping for prevention.
Rutter said, "The school district wants to work with us and really include all of their schools in their preparation so that we can provide the students a safe place to go to report these things. Then we can take the ball and run with it and catch up with these kids before it's too late or before they are harmed."
Right now, First Student has nine monitors stationed on buses with problem students.
These monitors act as another set of eyes and ears for bus drivers who may not always catch bullies in the act.