Friday, December 3, 2010


What makes a bully? How does a child learn how to push others around to get his or her own way and why? Does it perhaps start with the adults in their lives pushing them around and treating them like second class citizens? If we don't treat our children like they matter, like they are real human people with feelings than what do we expect them to do??

If children are treated well as children, they grow up thinking that it is OK to treat others with the same disrespect and then you have adults who can't carry on a conversation or function without causing problems.

Here is the story:

My nephew was riding the school bus and came home complaining that two other boys where picking on him, holding him down and drawing on his face and neck. Another time they pushed him under the seat, another time they took his shoe. A lot of boys being boys and my nephew was playing rough right back, but Smug-Sister felt it should be addressed and talked with the principal and the GM of the bus company (You see, our city leaders outsourced the bus drivers, causing many local folks to lose their jobs, or to re-apply for jobs with the new company and take cuts in pay and benefits). They talked to all three boys and the problem seemed to be resolved.

My issue was with the bus driver. His job is hard, I get it! But his job is to take care of the children on that bus and get them home safely. Is he is allowing the boys to jump from seat to seat, crawl under seats and hold each other down and draw on each other, then I feel there is a big problem!

This week, when my ex-brother-in-law met the bus to take my nephew for the afternoon, the bus driver yelled at my nephew, telling him that he needed sit still and stop jumping around on the bus. My nephew tried to explain that someone had taken his shoes and he was just trying to get them back, but the bus driver just kept yelling at him. My nephew's father stepped in and told the bus driver that he was aware of the issues on the bus and that my nephew wasn't the only problem. The bus driver slammed the door shut and drove off.

My sister called the GM of bus transportation and they pulled the tapes and could see all the boys jumping from seat to seat and playing around. Smug-Sister asked that her son be given an assigned seat away from the other boys on the bus, to keep him from getting involved.

When she met him at the bus stop today, the bus driver yelled at her to have a talk with her kid about getting right and not causing problems on the bus. She told him that my nephew was supposed to now have an assigned seat and he yelled back at her that he didn't have time to give every kid an assigned seat. She told him that she was trying to work with him to correct the situation and he didn't have to be an asshole, he slammed the door and drove away.

When Smug-Sister called the GM again and told him that the bus driver was yelling at the kids and her, she was told that the bus driver could yell at the kids all he wanted as long as he didn't cuss. She told him that her child wouldn't be riding the bus anymore with a bully for a driver and the GM replied that he was banning my nephew from the bus (like this was a big punishment since she wasn't going to let him ride the bus anymore anyway) and hung up on her.

Here is the thing, if the bus driver had talked to my sister calmly or the GM had been understanding and if they had both been willing to work with my sister in this situation, none of this would have happened. But because these adults don't believe that children should be treated with respect and don't understand that children are humans with feelings, this situation escalated into something ugly.

Apparently it is OK for the kids on the bus to bully each other, because the GM and the driver bully the parents. But here is the kicker - parents have power! I told my sister to call the local news. The city's decision to hire this outside company to handle the buses has gotten a ton of bad press from the start and parents need to know that the city leaders, the bus company and drivers are perfectly fine with kids bullying each other and with treating parents and kids alike as if they are an inconvenience and not the whole reason they have jobs!

Lastly, because I hate it when people complain without offering solutions, here is something that I think would help. Did you know that the public school buses don't have seatbelts?? Planes have seatbelts and lets face it, in a crash, a seatbelt on a plane ain't gonna do much! However, our public school systems care so little about the safety and well being of our children that they still don't install seatbelts. What if they did? Every child would be buckled in, unable to jump from seat to seat, unable to crawl under seats, unable to hold someone down and draw on their face.

The cars now ping when someone is not strapped in, the buses could have the same function and the driver could address. If there are kids that are not getting along, they could easily be moved to another seat and strapped in. This seems a pretty simple and fairly inexpensive fix.

Maybe I am in the minority, but I think that bullying is wrong. Be it from child to another child, adult to another adult or adult to child. Something has to be done to protect our children from growing up thinking that it's OK to treat others badly!

1 comment:

  1. This probably upsets me more then you will ever know. I've gotten a lot of books on bullying lately, and all give the same advise. If you are being bullied tell an adult. What good does that do if adults aren't stepping up and helping these kids. What tools am I suppose to give my kids against these kinds of acts. How are we "Stomping Out Bullying" if we make the bullied kid feel like the problem?
    My son has had a few problems (not like this) where he was hit by another student, and when he took up for himself and told the kid he was mean. My son, was punished for name calling. Really?! I just reinforced at home that was the right thing, and that you should tell the teacher why you said it.
    The worst part is , this is elem. school, it only going to get worse.
    Also, I think that bus driver needs to be fired. I am able to drive my son to school, but he rides the bus everyday, because he enjoys it. The bus driver everyday, tells him where he can sit (kids more his age)and haves him near the front since he's only in kindergarten. She is the best driver ever. Knows all the kids name, watches out for them, talks to me every morning, and even does special things for them on the holiday. So, I know that bus drivers don't have to be complete jerks to do that job, and your nephews driver could have easily gotten him a front seat without going out of his way.

    I hope everything works out. I feel for your sister and nephew on this. It's not fair, he gets punished for being bullying.