real life

Shouldn't my son be safe on the school bus?

I couldn’t believe that this happened to my son somewhere he’s meant to be safe.

My favourite time of the day is 3.15 each afternoon when the school bus pulls up right outside my house and my boys get off. My 12-year-old is way too cool to greet me properly in front of his friends and will only hug me inside the house, however my five-year-old runs off the bus, exclaims, “Hi Mummy!” and runs straight into my arms for a massive cuddle.

He started Kindergarten this year and has been thoroughly enjoying it. One of the highlights for him is catching the school bus home. I was hesitant to put him on the bus so young but because his big brother would be there to look after him, I decided to let him.

Earlier this week my worst fears came true. My son got off the school bus crying hysterically. He was crying so hard I couldn’t get a word out of him. His big brother quickly explained that an older girl on the bus had repeatedly taken my son’s hat off and also his shoes and thrown them down the bus aisle. So my son tried to push her away and she responded by punching him repeatedly in his chest.

I know exactly who the girl is. She goes to their school and is in Year 5. She was always sitting on the back seat with my boys and seemed friendly until now. As the bus pulled away I spotted her, pointed my finger at her and gave her an angry look. She quickly lay down on the back seat to hide.

"My son was crying so hard I couldn't get a word out of him".

I got the boys inside the house and managed to calm my little boy down but he was very upset for the rest of the night and scared to catch the bus the next day. My first instinct was to call the school and complain, but because she had lay down and hidden I had a funny feeling that she was already feeling bad.

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I decided to empower my older boy to talk to her. I considered writing a letter for him to give to her but thought that would be taking it too far. My older son was instructed to ask her to say sorry to my little boy and then he had to tell her that if she ever touched him again I'd call the school.

That day my boys got off the bus their usual happy selves. Once again, she lay down and hid from me. My older son said he'd talked to her while they were lined up at school waiting for the bus. He told her what I'd said and she said, "I was going to say sorry anyway". They don't sit with her any more and she goes out of her way to avoid them. If it ever happens again I will have to take it further.

I took it for granted that my boys were safe on the school bus but that's not true. The only adult supervision that big school bus full of kids has is the driver and what can he do? He's concentrating of driving the bus.

In the US they have bus monitors who sit on the bus and keep an eye on the kids. I'd love to see that happen here. My niece's bus driver told them to, "Shut the f up" a few weeks back and so many parents were angry about it. But after my shock faded I felt sorry for him. It must be incredibly overwhelming to try and control a bus full of loud and tired kids without any help.

Have you ever had any problems on the school bus? Do your kids like catching it?

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