Sunday, June 1, 2008

Behavior Issues and Parents

For those that don’t know, I substitute on the buses. I don’t have a regular route that I do, so I end up learning and doing many different routes. Because I am employed as a full time employee, my position is considered a “floater” because I bounce around on many different buses.

It seems though that behavior issues are much larger and more apparent today than they were 15 years ago when I was in elementary school. I seem to have a lot of kids who misbehave on the bus. The children who ride the bus break many of the bus rules. Common rules found on the bus are:

1. Observe same conduct as in the classroom.
2. Be courteous, use no profane language.
3. Do not eat or drink on the bus.
4. Keep the bus clean.
5. Cooperate with the driver.
6. Do not smoke.
7. Do not be destructive.
8. Stay in your seat.
9. Keep head, hands, and feet inside the bus.
10. Bus driver is authorized to assign seats.

All of these rules are posted on a yellow sheet inside most school buses.



While some of these rules seem outdated by the language, they pretty much apply across the board. Some of the more common, unwritten rules are:

1. Safety zones around the outside of the bus.
2. Quiet at the railroad crossings.

Every rider who gets on the school bus should take each of these rules seriously. It seems though more and more we get massive behavior problems from the students who ride. Yes, the bus driver takes certain credibility with how their bus behaves, but there are many kids who disregard the rules completely. The most common rules that are broke are the eating and drinking rule, and the stay in your seat rule. These rules are followed by the no profane language rule, and the conduct in the classroom rule.

Everyday I deal with children who will not stay seated, who cuss me out, who get into fights with each other, and who constantly eat and drink on the bus – leaving the trash all over the floor of the bus. In some buses, it’s an everyday occurrence with the SAME students. The buses in my district are equipped with cameras that catch the students every move. Many times the tapes are useful in showing the principal or assistant principal exactly what a student is doing on the bus. It’s also helpful when a parent comes to the bus shop or the school claiming their children “couldn’t have been the one” to misbehave. After all, little Suzy or Johnny is an “angel”.

I believe the increase in the misbehavior on school buses and in schools is largely due to the increase in children who believe they are “entitled”. Discipline isn’t what it used to be over 20 years ago because it is considered to be “abusive” and “negative” on the child’s psyche. This entitlement shift has been the main reason why it is now “someone else’s” fault for the child’s misbehavior. Parents don’t want to take responsibility and discipline their children appropriately for misbehavior due to the thinking that discipline is bad for children. Increasingly, the schools are at a loss as to what to do with the child who misbehaves. Excuses are made for behavior problems. “Alternative” schools are created to “allow” these behavior problems to have an education anyways. It’s like saying to a child, “Its ok you misbehaved, and you won’t be held accountable for your actions because there are other options for you.”

So now instead of taking an adult school bus driver’s word over the child’s, the tape is pulled from the bus and is used to show the behavior problem. Since WHEN is a camera and tape more important than an adult’s word over the children’s word?

Even so, children do not get removed from the riding PRIVILEGE or suffer the same consequences as many of us did when we were younger. We even cater to them by stopping “door to door” thereby wasting fuel and time. All respect is lost for adult authority because everyone makes excuses. Children will misbehave, but the excuses need to stop.

Excused out,
The Bus Driver

20 comments:

Scott Walker said...

It's pretty bad to see how the norms have changed. People around won't understand it either.

Keep writing. I like your blog.

Pissed Off said...

Teachers are treated the same. I've seen many administrators take the word of the student over the word of the teacher. Being a sub makes your life even harder.

The Bus Driver said...

PO'd Yes, thats true. I've been a Sub for the school district as well, and have gotten the same treatment. Most of the time now, since my classroom/bus management skills have increased, I can manage most behaviors on the bus/ in the classroom. But its still disheartening when students continue to disobey.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

At my school kids are getting "banned from the bus" all the time for bad behavior...I guess it all depends on administrator backbone.

Anonymous said...

I understand that as an adult it is frustrating when one's word is not believed over a child's word. I would be horrified if the school called me about my child's misbehavior, but I would not automatically believe the school. Here is why:

I KNOW my child may lie to me.
I KNOW the school administration has lied to me about my child.
I THINK I can better determine when my child is lying than than I can determine when the school is lying.

So...who would I believe?

The Bus Driver said...

Anonymous:

It seems to me that you've had frustration with school administration and honesty in the past. Unfortunately, children & adults DO lie (not all the time, but they do lie.) The problem here is not lying. It is the behavior problems that we see from children. Of course most children are going to deny whenever they've done wrong generally speaking.

You stated that you would be horrified if the school contacted you about your child's misbehavior and that you wouldn't believe the school automatically, but if you're horrified, then wouldn't it stand that the school felt they had a good reason to contact you and felt it necessary to bring something to your attention?

It still stands that there are people who can be vindictive towards others, therefore both sides of an issue (behavior or otherwise) need to be reviewed before it is resolved.

Becca said...

I remember riding a yellow bus around 15 years ago, myself. I guess that's not long enough ago to be the "good old days. In my time, kids were loud and obnoxious and frequently broke most of the rules of the bus.

I remember that some of the bus drivers mostly ignored it, some were attentive and good at maintaining discipline, and a few were lousy at discipline but great at yelling at the entire bus " SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!!! ".
If you are in the first or second category, and just venting, you have my utmost sympathy. If you are in the third category, for the sake of yourself and the kids, don't do it anymore.

The Bus Driver said...

Mrs Bluebird - I'm glad to see that your school takes a proactive approach to discipline issues.

Becca - I am what is considered a "floater". I do not have a regular route, instead I bounce around buses, depending on whomever is absent. I have seen the whole spectrum of how Bus Drivers manage their buses.

I am more lax to let certain things go. (IE: cellphones, ipods, electronic gadgets are prohibited from schools and by proxy school buses, I'm supposed to confiscate, but instead, my philosophy is, if the child is being quiet and not disrupting the environment, then let them keep the item thats keeping them occupied.) I don't tolerate loud obnoxious noises (basically if I cannot hear a train whistle or a police/ emergency siren due to the noise on the bus, then we have problems. I also will not tolerate hitting or physical aggression as that can lead to some serious damage. Most discipline issues I have are the ones that relate to safety. I expect the children will stay seated, those who don't will get a discipline referral.

I've been a floater for about a year and a half, and most of the buses I substitute on, the children know what I expect. It's those few incidences and buses (and there are a few) where the SAFETY of the children are at stake. I do not yell, but I do raise my voice loud enough to be heard in the back (the motor of the bus is quite loud.) If the loudspeaker works on a bus, I utilize it. I also go directly to their regular bus drivers, just as a substitute would leave a note for the regular teachers about behavior and discipline issues. So, long answer short, I'm just venting. :)

Q6 said...

I get a lot of conduct referrals from our bus drivers, and my conversations with the students are all pretty much the same: "A bus is a two-ton vehicle, filled with children, going 45 miles per hour down the road. I don't know about you, but I want the driver of that vehicle to pay 100% of his attention to the road. If you're [eating/drinking, moving around, yelling etc.], that's 5% of his attention on you. If a couple of you are doing it, the driver may be paying, say, 80% attention to the road. Are you comfortable with that? The lower that number goes, the more likely you are to die.

And THAT's why I have a problem with your doing that on the bus."

Seems to work. I don't get a lot of repeat offenders.

The Bus Driver said...

Q6 - Thank you for taking a pro-active approach in dealing with misbehaving children. It is administrators such as yourself that make it worthwhile to fill out the discipline referrals. You're right, if the right action is taken on the referral in the first place, the child is not likely to misbehave again. Thank you.

loonyhiker said...

I have used a videocamera in my classroom and it has improved behavior for the same reasons you mentioned. Unfortunately, the ones that are usually misbehaving continuously have no consequences at home. I have seen parents complain that they cannot control their high school children. I think they needed to be taught how to behave properly when they are in elementary school so that they can be controlled by the time they are in high school. I wouldn't dare cuss out an adult when I was in high school, not because I was afraid of a physical threat at home (which was a possibility of course) but more because I didn't want to disappoint or embarrass my parents. We need to get back to that mentality with our children.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I can comment without registering, but wanted to say that not all bus drivers are good ones either. Tell me what exactly a 2nd or 3rd grader could possible do to warrant a driver yelling at them every single day so loudly that it makes their ears pop? You bring up major offenses that must be being committed by teenagers or something, but my kids do little stuff like peek out the window to see if where they are is their stop or not. Some kid will have his foot in the aisle. They're yelled at to SIT DOWN as soon as they enter the bus, even if they're bewildered as to where to sit. 7 year olds, after all, are not the must "with it" crowd, yet. I think that it's great everything is recorded so I can prove that my kids' driver is acting like a maniac. She doesn't ever inform me that they are misbehaving or anything like that. I think it should be her job to inform a parent of misbehavior before she assumes that she can yell, scream, mimic, or mock their children. In a lot of cases, children are the victims of the abuse that adults can dish out and if you can't handle a 1st to 5th grader without having to resort to abusive tactics like YELLING over a PA system, for God's sake, then find another line of work, please.

Kelly P said...

Bus Driver:
Do you have any suggestions on how to get your children to behave while on the bus? My son, who I know is not an angel, but a good kid none-the-less, has been having some issues on the bus with getting goofy/rowdy. I've tried to send him in with books, activities, things to stay busy, and he still gets rowdy which leads to other problems. I've tried at-home incentives for good bus behavior and privileges taken away for bad bus behavior - and we haven't had much improvement. Have you found anything in particular that helps kids to behave??
TIA.

Anonymous said...

children need to know what the rules are on the Bus and they need to know why. When the child knoes the whys the hows become easier. The students need to know what is expected of them and the bus drivers need to let the students know what they can expect from them.

The Bus Drives needs to "inspect what he expects." he needs to make sure that school district's policies are followed equally amongst all the students but he should not treat them all the same. Because they are individuals he needs to find out what motivates them and try to tailor his interaction with them based on that.

A School Bus Driver shouldn't be intimidated by anyone for doing his job. He needs to set their bar high for expected behavior and make the student stretch as opposed to reach. Most of all, the driver needs to really CARE about all the students without being their "BUDDY!" AND, The driver needs to make his word his bond. IF you promise them something deliver. If you threaten them with a Bus ticket if they continue to break the rules, then write them up. Follow through with what you promise.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how a driver can be expected to discipline middle schoolers (the worst) for bad behavior and drive at the same time. I have trouble driving with my two boys arguing in the back seat of my car. I've been known to pull over until they behave. I had a bus driver that did that a time or two. What good are the videos if they are only viewed after the fact?

Right now I'm trying to decide how to handle this: My son (and others) get harassed verbally evry day and today, physically by a gang of kids that claim the back of the bus. None of the kids want to 'snitch', so this goes on for weeks before I hear about it. Does the driver know about it? Hard to say. Something has to be done.

The video cameras are great for IDing problems after the fact, but I'm not sure they are much of a deterrent.

I wish there were bus monitors. Adult voluteers to enforce the rules, so this wouldn't happen.

Brett said...

Great blog!

I work for a company that writes software (www.busconduct.com) to handle behavior issues on school buses like those you mention that are getting worse. We have heard that one of the biggest issues is getting conduct information to the schools and getting timely feedback back from them on what disciplinary action should be taken. The problem child may cause problems for many more days before he is even disciplined. And drivers tell us that some school administrators just aren't held accountable for when they neglect their responsibilities.

Our web software greatly speeds up the turn around time for disciplinary action to be taken and reports clearly show which administrators are not taking appropriate action so they can be held accountable. I feel good that we've help make a lot of driver's lives a little less stressful.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mrs. Bluebird. Kids these days have not been taught respect and they do believe they are entitled. And, I am amazed at the language these kids use. The "F" bomb is dropped like it's nothing. You couldn't pay me enough to drive a school bus now, and have to deal with these kids. I also think a lot of parents need to get their lazy butts out of bed, and take their kids to school....especially the little ones.(lower elementary) It's a great time to talk with your child, listen to music, or ride quietly. A much better way to start off the school day.

Anonymous said...

Its a PRIVILEGE to ride the bus, and yet our tax dollars pay for the bus's. So maybe its a PRIVILEGE the bus companys reveive, the money from our tax dollars? nope, its required, I will be remembering THAT at the next budget vote. We are paying for a service they are denying us. no more of that crap. And I have known many kids who have been thrown off the bus's for something someother kid did, I have SEEN kids on the bus running up and down the asle's and the bus driver dosent write them up, But when my friends Son gets knocked out of his seat by one of these kids, HE gets written up and suspended, not the kid running in the alse. My Father in law is a full time bus driver, so I am WELL aware of what goes on on the bus. My 5 y/o Has an assigned seat with a kid that hits and kicks her, SHE got written up and suspended when she tried to change seats. I called the bus garage to complain and was told the bus driver has the right to assign seats, i understand that, but the kid shes sitting with is beating the crap out of her. I was told TO BAD, its a privilage to ride the bus not a right. WHY HAS NOTHING HAPPENED TO THE BOY hes on the bus EVERYDAY!! My tax dollers at WORK. I wont cry at the next budget vote, your not getting anynore money from me!

Rachel Kirouac said...

My 6 year old has been suspended from the bus for a day! I have spoken to the school several times about the behaviour on that bus. I know my child is not innocent, but he is only 6! We also have 4 older kids that travel on the bus and have never gotten into trouble. The older kids always complain of the horrible language and bullying that occur everyday. I believe that kids become a product of their environment (like my 6 year old) and do not make good choices because of it. I am totally at a loss of what to do, I have given my son daily reminders about appropriate behaviour, but when he gets caught up in all the chaos that occurs he seems to misbehave. I should also note that when he was suspended, it did not upset him because he received special care and more "mommy" time.

Anonymous said...

It is a "PRIVILAGE" to ride the bus. Your tax dollars go into a school budget. the School allocates so much to Bus transportation. No Tax dollars go directly to School Busses. If A kid is jumping around, throwing things, yelling, fighting, etc. and the driver can NOT get them suspended, then that kid is likely to cause a serious accident and possibly KILL other kids on the bus. Sorry if you think it's your kids RIGHT to threaten all other kids on that bus, but it is NOT.