Debbie Rike recently retired as director of transportation at Shelby County Schools in Arlington, Tenn. Before her work in transportation, she served as a special-education teacher and administrator.
Preventing the problem
How can our school bus drivers prevent this from happening to them? For starters, they should not allow students to use iPods or cell phones just because it keeps them quiet. Some drivers underestimate the damage that can be done: Student may record acts of bullying, vulgar/inappropriate behaviors, fights and other harassing or embarrassing images.
Surprisingly, elementary students appear to be just as likely as the older students to engage in cyberbaiting. These days, it seems that everyone has a smartphone.
Consider these tips for school bus driver training:
1. Raise driver awareness of cyberbaiting and its potential harm.
2. Require drivers to enforce the district’s student cell phone policy.
3. Drivers should avoid personal and social networking/communication with students. They are not your friends.
4. Drivers should not take video or photos of students or situations on the bus.
5. Don’t take student behavior personally.
6. If drivers always remain calm and professional, cyberbaiting will never be a problem for them. If you don’t want to be heard using unprofessional language, simply don’t say it.
7. Remember: The eyes of the world are always watching. Respond in all situations as if the media were present.
8. Report all violations of cell phone policies, especially if it appears that a student may be recording incidents on the bus.
9. Drivers can ask for the student’s phone, but they should not get involved in a power struggle — no one wins.
Most of all, school bus drivers must remember that they are the adult in the situation. They should always act like the professionals they are.