All About School Bus Bullying

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What You Should Know About School Bus Bullying: Statistics, Prevention, and More

Students need to feel safe on the bus. After all, it’s how they start and end their school day. We’ve talked about bullying in schools before, but what about bullying on school buses? Unfortunately, about ten percent of all reported middle and high school bullying happens on the school bus (as of 2012, as school bus bullying data since is usually bundled with bullying in school data).[1] Most students who are bullied, however, do not inform adults about the bullying.[2] Worse, it’s hard for bus drivers to address this type of bullying; drivers need to be paying attention to the road, and looking away for even a second could lead to an accident.

Signs of School Bus Bullying

For the most part, the signs of bullying on the bus do not differ very much from the signs of bullying in school. However, unique signs of “bus bullying include:

  • Fear of going to school or of riding the bus.
  • Habitually delaying or otherwise deliberately trying to miss the bus.
  • Continually asking for rides to school or finding excuses to ride with friends instead of on the bus.”[3]

This is, of course, in addition to the common signs of bullying in schools such as missing possessions, mysterious bruises, etc.[4] Parents should watch out for these signs and talk to their child if they suspect that bullying is occurring on the school bus.

What Can Be Done to Address School Bus Bullying?

Parents and Children

Addressing existing bullying situations falls upon a parent and child, in many cases, due to the fact that the bus driver is often unable to address the situation as it happens since their focus is on the road. If you have a child who is being bullied on the school bus, you have options on how to address the situation. First, you should immediately report the incident to the principal of your child’s school and follow up as often as necessary in order to speak directly with the principal.[5] You should also report the instance of bullying to the school district transportation department that manages your child’s school bus.[6] You can also help your child with self-esteem and conflict-resolution skills in order to help them get out of the cycle of bullying.[7]

Bus Drivers, Administrators, and Teachers

There are a number of tools and training sessions available to help bus drivers learn how to handle bullying effectively while still keeping their main focus on the road. These resources often include methods for bus drivers to make sure their voices are heard when they report incidences of bullying and to ensure that these reports are addressed.

Administrators and teachers can teach students about the self-esteem and conflict-resolution skills necessary to help students break the cycle of bullying, too. They also can hold classes or assemblies to instruct students on how to be “upstanders,” as “peer pressure is a huge deterrent when it comes to bullying . . . If enough kids tell a person that what they’re doing isn’t right, the bullying can be stopped.”[8]

How to Prevent Bullying on School Buses?

Once you know why bullying takes place on school buses, it’s a bit easier to handle. The lack of supervision is one of the biggest factors in bus bullying, so that is the first step to address it.[9] Many school buses now have surveillance cameras installed facing the students to deter and address such misbehavior, but this doesn’t solve everything. “Schools can also hire more bus aides . . . The presence of bus aides can eliminate bullying dramatically. Bullies are less likely to attack their victims if they know a responsible adult is nearby.”[10] Of course, not all school districts can afford to hire additional bus supervisors, but adult volunteers may be a viable alternative.

Another issue is that the anti-bullying policies on the bus may not be clear or well-communicated to students and parents. recommends establishing clear policies against bullying, reviewing them with students, posting them on the bus, and sending letters to parents reviewing these policies as well.[11] By setting those ground rules from the beginning, bus drivers begin their routes with a sense of authority, potentially deterring students from engaging in inappropriate behavior.

While bus drivers’ main focus is on getting students to school and home safely, there are a number of resources available to train and empower bus drivers to help prevent bullying on their watch. It’s important to establish that the bus driver is not only an authority figure but also a person that students can trust. Bus drivers should establish a rapport and a “positive atmosphere on the bus.”[12] They should get to know their students, including their names, and introduce themselves while also making sure to “use positive, non-verbal interactions” such as “a smile, a nod,” or a thumbs up.[13] By creating an environment where a positive atmosphere is encouraged, where students view drivers as trustworthy adults, and where bullying is not tolerated, bullies are less likely to attack their targets and victims are more likely to report issues.

Addressing and Preventing School Bus Bullying in Your Community

School bus bullying is just as much of a concern as in-school bullying because it causes the same mental, academic, and emotional trauma to students, but it also tends to be harder to spot and address and it increases the risk of a vehicular collision with the school bus.[14] However, there are resources available for students, parents, bus drivers, teachers, and administrators to inform them on how to handle existing bullying situations and even prevent them in the first place. You can look for and run training seminars for bus drivers, school assemblies for students, and so much more. Sometimes, the simple changes in policy, the straightforward methods of establishing positive environments, and the smallest gestures in standing up for others can reduce bullying and help improve the school bus climate.

[1]U.S. Department of Education. “U.S. Department of Education Provides Guidance to Help School Bus Drivers Combat Bullying.” Retrieved from on February 22, 2017.

[2] “Facts about Bullying.” Retrieved from on February 22, 2017.

[3]Mayntz, Melissa. “School Bus Bullying.” Retrieved from on February 23, 2017.


[5]“Bullying on the School Bus.” Colorado Springs School District 11. Retrieved from on February 23, 2017.


[7]“Tackling School Bus Bullying.” Campus Safety Magazine. Retrieved from on February 23, 2017.


[9]Towvim, Laura. “How to Prevent Bullying on the Bus.” Retrieved from on February 27, 2017.

[10]“Bullying on Buses.” Retrieved from on February 23, 2017.

[11]Towvim, Laura. “How to Prevent Bullying on the Bus.” Retrieved from on February 23, 2017.

[12]“Bus Drivers and Bullying Prevention.” National Education Association. Retrieved from on February 23, 2017.



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