Bullying is a widespread problem among children (it's estimated that at least 27 percent of all kids get bullied at some point during their school years). The simplest definition of bullying is the act of aggressive and unwelcome behavior towards another person, and the effects can be long-lasting and mentally damaging to the victim. Children who are bullied tend to have a higher likelihood of depression, anxiety, and disconnection from peers. In fact, 75 percent of school-related shootings have been linked to bullying in some form.
One of the most prominent places a child can get bullied is on the school bus. That's because even though the bus driver is an adult who is present with the children, their main job is to keep their attention on the road and drive without distraction. Which means that oftentimes, children who are bullied on the bus get entirely missed by the only grown-up present. As a parent, it can feel frustrating to figure out how to handle a situation in which your child is being targeted. Here is a list of effective things to do right now to help your child get to school in a safe (and fun!) environment.
1. Tell the School
Immediately report the issue to the school's administration and request actionable help. Most public schools now have strict anti-bullying policies, and 49 states have anti-bullying legislation in place. Working with your school's administration to dismantle the bullying dynamics on the bus would be the most efficient way to find a solution that works for your child.
2. Switch Their Seat
Have your child sit near the front of the bus, where they will be within closer proximity of the bus driver. Make sure the bus driver is aware of the situation and keen on helping. Oftentimes, bullying takes place when adults aren't present or paying attention. Letting the driver know what's happening and having your child sit within close proximity will offer a safeguard from the bully.
3. Buddy Up
See if your child can sit near friends and neighbors. When outnumbered, bullies don't like to play aggressor in group settings, so having a bus partner or friend nearby can help deter the bully from approaching your child. It can also offer powerful support to your child.
4. Consider Other Transportation
If it's nice out, consider letting your child ride their bike to school. Or if they have a close group of friends, chat with the other parents about setting up a carpool. Though this may not be possible in all circumstances, if the situation escalates and your child is in deep turmoil, it may be best for their mental health if you remove them from a toxic situation. Oftentimes, eliminating the regularity of bullying can provide tremendous relief to the victim.
5. Contact the Bully's Parents
Contact the bully's parents and try to see if a solution can be found. This may be a touchy topic for some parents, but approach the bully's parents with tact and be aware that no one likes to hear complaints about their child. If you approach it in a sensitive manner, chances are that the other parents will be willing to work with their own child to eliminate the bullying behavior.