For the past few weeks I’ve been discussing the YouTube video titled Making the Bus Monitor Cry. My first post on this subject focused in on the monitor’s response. The second discussed why the boys did it. Today, I’d like to discuss the school district’s response.
Now, to be fair to the school district, let me point out that I have no first hand knowledge of how the district handled this situation. My discussion rests on what I’ve observed from interviews with the bus monitor, reports from news agencies and my own personal reaction.
From what I’ve been able to gather, this was not the first time the monitor observed taunting and bullying on her school bus. In a TV interview, she reported that she had written referrals about this to school officials and “nothing would be done.”
According to the school district, it has a plan in place to address bullying:
“Specifically, the Greece Central School District has recently adopted the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a systemic approach involving all community stakeholders to reduce bullying and other anti-social behaviors. The Greece Central School District has a clear Code of Conduct and all staff and students have been fully trained. This behavior is a clear violation and will not be tolerated. The district will also ensure that reporting procedures are reviewed and response procedures are systemically in place.”
Okay, so I do credit the school district for adopting a fine prevention program. And perhaps because it has only “recently” been adopted, not all of its features can be expected to be fully implemented.
Nevertheless, when I heard the district say, “The Greece Central School District has a clear Code of Conduct and all staff and students have been fully trained,” I found myself cringing. In my opinion, if a bus monitor makes a referral about tormenting and bullying on the bus, if the monitor is left feeling that nothing is done, something is seriously wrong.
If the school district had thoroughly trained this bus monitor, Karen Klein, what would I have expected to occur in the situation that she found herself in?
In my opinion, as soon as she had heard any signs of taunting or bullying on the bus on the way home from school, she would have been thoroughly trained to make the following announcement in a loud clear voice.
“I have just observed some actions that struck me as taunting or bullying. I expect it to stop immediately. If I hear even a hint of anything more that strikes me as taunting or bullying, I will have the bus immediately returned to the school. Those involved will be then escorted off the bus and will wait for their parents to pick them up.”
Then, if any other disrespectful behavior was heard, she would then call, via a cell phone, the school district’s administration so that personnel will be prepared to meet the bus and to carry out this plan.
This type of response would be no surprise to students or parents. In schools that have had proper training, all students, parents and staff are informed that this plan will happen under this set of circumstances.
In the event that the school bus does return back to school, all students who taunted or bullied anyone on the bus would have to write a letter of apology, make a commitment to never do it again and explain why taunting and bullying are wrong before they are permitted to ride again on the bus.
Such a plan empowers the bus monitor. Moreover, it creates a climate in which the other students on the bus would use social pressure to discourage taunting and bullying because they would not want any delays in getting home. In addition, the act of writing the letter would be used as a teaching moment, rather than punishment.
Now this type of plan would never be the sole approach to dealing with taunting and bullying. Any bullying approach must include a more encompassing program like Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Nevertheless, for those following this blog I believe it is helpful for me to lay out what my expectation for handling the specific type of situation that Karen Klein found herself in. Then readers can compare and contrast my view with what they view as a skillful response.
Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.