Bus Monitor Bullied by Middle Schoolers: A Call to Action

June 29 2012

Author

  • Rick Phillips, Founder, Community Matters
    Rick Phillips
    Founder, Community Matters

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Once again, bullying has reared its ugly head and we find ourselves confronted by another outrageous example of cruelty and incivility. An elderly bus monitor recently made headlines when she was bullied by a group of middle school students. This incident dramatically illustrates the mutating nature and scope of the bullying virus. It’s getting younger, meaner, more electronic and more acceptable in youth culture.

While there has certainly been an outpouring of shock and anger, there has also been an increasing number of people asking: What can be done to stem the growing trend of increased incivility and intolerance among our young people?

This incident reinforces the understanding that security measures, or an “outside-in” approach, is not effective in making schools (and buses) safer places. According to the U.S. School Security Market, for 2005, nearly $1 billion dollars was expended on securing school campuses with items such as metal detectors, surveillance equipment and an increased officer presence. However, Russell Skiba (University of Indiana, 2002) stated, “there is no measurable evidence that heightened security or zero tolerance policies significantly reduces school violence.”

Ask yourself – what if just one of the students on the bus had spoken up and acted as an “upstander”. Might the incident have been avoided? I think you’ll agree the answer is undoubtedly YES.  Peer pressure both positive and negative is a powerful force and can influence the actions of others.  Youth with the skills, the knowledge and the motivation to intervene would surely make a difference in the majority of bullying incidents.

So as adults, we have choices to make about how we approach this growing epidemic. We can shake our heads and feel angry and saddened or we can raise our voices and take corrective action.  The latter requires that as adults we “walk the talk”. It means we reach out to school leaders and policy makers and challenge them to believe in the power of youth and invest in educating students to be effective peacemakers and change agents.

At Community Matters, we continue to be singularly committed to this goal: waking up the courage of young people and equipping them with skills to safely and effectively stand up and speak up when they see cruelty and bullying in their midst.

Change begins with each of us. We can make our buses, hallways, schools and neighborhoods safer and free of bullying. To do so, we must access our courage, raise our voices, become role models, and support our young people by empowering and equipping them to “be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Click here to learn 11 Ways You Can Help Stop Bullying

Learn more about our work to create safer schools.

Read Lisa Flam’s article about the bus monitor bullying incident on Health Today



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