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Monday, July 23, 2012

Different Worlds

The school bus and the school building are completely different worlds yet we typically try to solve their problems in the same way.  Solutions that work in the school building not only fail to work on the school bus but may even exacerbate the problems on the bus.  Here is a chart comparing the two environments (taken from my forthcoming book:  No Place for Bullying):

School Building
School Bus
Students are grouped by age.

Students are in one large mixed-age group.
Staff focused on students
Driver has to drive the bus.
External controls under adult supervision can be effective.
External controls from school don’t extend to bus.
Internal control not  always necessary
Internal control only real option
Most bullying is unnoticed by adults.
Even easier to conceal than in building
Purpose and importance of school clear in students’ mind
Bus is a means to an end—something to get you to school.
Many environmental options for behavior change
Contained space with few options
Adults are adjacent to students.
Driver can be far away and occupied driving the bus.
Timely response to behavior possible
Response to behavior can be days away
Traditional approaches to behavioral management can work.
Traditional approaches are not effective.
Bystanders can remove themselves as an audience to the bullying.
Students who bully have a captive audience on the bus.

There are no off the shelf solutions to the problems on the bus.  The only effective solutions will come from transportation staff and school staff working together to analyze the problems and develop creative solutions based investing time and energy to prevent as many problems as possible.  Waiting until something happens and then providing some type of consequence is ultimately just damage control.

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