Drivers must tame school bus bullies, says dad

The father of a child who took his own life because of bullying has called for better training for bus and coach drivers after issuing a second report into the problem.

His latest publication concludes that the drivers have inadequate training to deal with bullying on vehicles.

The “Vodden report: In the Drivers’s Seat”examines the views of bus and coach drivers who take children to and from school.

It was commissioned by Paul Vodden, who began to research the problem of bullying on the school bus after a family tragedy.

Paul, from Southwater, lost his son Ben, 11, in December 2006, when the distressed youngster took his own life at his home after being bullied on the school bus. 

Since then Paul has campaigned tirelessly on the issue of bullying on dedicated school buses, calling for more action to address the problem and to put in place procedures that help protect both child and driver.

Paul says the latest research reveals a lack of training for bus drivers in how to deal with bullying on the school bus.

The new research was published during the current School Transport Safety Week that ended today.

Paul said:  “After the publication of my first report into bullying on school buses, I had the opportunity to discuss school bus transport with a number of coach drivers. 

“This strengthened my view that the driver is often in an unacceptable situation, being expected to be ‘in charge’ of their young passengers, more often than not without having received suitable training. 

“Having responsibility first and foremost for driving the bus, a task demanding full attention and concentration, it is unfair and dangerous to expect drivers to undertake another task – supervising the behaviour of their passengers – at the same time.”

The report recommendations include one that says a complete and comprehensive assessment of CCTV use on school coaches must be instigated and completed without delay, and installed if thought beneficial.

In the meantime, another adult who has received suitable and effective training, must be placed on each dedicated bus or coach transporting children to and from school.

The report reveals amongst other points that 67.4% of school bus or coach drivers had witnessed bullying on the school bus and  78% had never been given advice on how to handle instances of bullying.  73.6% of school bus or coach drivers had not received any training in working with children.

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