New campaign to fight gang violence and bullying on school buses

OLATHE, Kan. - A school bus company is doing its part to put the brakes on bullying and gang violence on school buses.

First Student developed a new campaign called, "See Something! Do Something!"  It's focused on educating drivers and helping them identify bully behavior and helping them promote zero tolerance policies for these behaviors and gang violence on the bus.

Dave Beaver, an instructor for First Student in Olathe, meets with bus drivers once a week to educate drivers on bullying.

"The main thing we want drivers to do is get to know their students and to observe their students as they come on the bus and observe their students when they get off the bus because then their drivers can be setting a positive atmosphere for the student getting on the bus," Beaver said. "It's fairly easy to look at students as they get on the bus to see if something is going right or something's going wrong. "

First Student transports about 6 million students across the country every day, including students in Kansas and Missouri. Several local schools between Kansas and Missouri contract with the First Student bus company. 

The school bus is known as an extension of the classroom. The new campaign hopes to address bullying on the bus ride to and from school.  While the bus ride may be short, bullying and gang violence are significant issues for today's students. Both take place at school, on the school bus, in the community and online, which can make them very difficult to avoid.

Beaver encourages bus drivers to make assigned seats and learn the students' names.

"When you have 30, 40, 50, 60, students on a bus it takes a while to get to know them," he said, "and I think that's the hardest part is getting to know the children because once you get to know them and they know that you know their name then they know that you can also write them up and report them to the school."

First Student representatives say there are things parents can do at home before the student even gets on the bus.  Parents can be positive and create a supportive environment.  Parents can also identify and praise appropriate behavior.  First Student says parents need to create relationships so that they feel comfortable reporting bullying.

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