Increasing attacks hinder transportation for students and have left drivers frightened


Jianna Aganon

As violent incidents involving school bus drivers shockingly affect our district, bus drivers now work in fear in what has now turned into an aggressive and rowdy environment. Yet, drivers are expected to put up with worsening conditions and continue to perform their duties for adolescents who disrespect their authority.

In light of fairly recent attacks against CCSD bus drivers by students and parents, concerns about behavior occurring on the way to and from school continues. Many have come to the defense of the drivers, mentioning the low salaries in comparison to the challenges of the job, and how drivers allow for a free and safe mode of transportation home for students and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

But on August 18, after calling out a student for boarding a bus despite not being on the list, a father, Otis Tanner, attempted to hijack the bus and assaulted the driver. These kinds of violent incidents like these have instituted fear on the road.

It’s clear that the recent physical attacks against drivers are unacceptable and need to stop now.

To understand the recent violence, it would be best to consider what an average bus environment is like. Regularly, bus drivers have to deal with up to 50 loud, aggressive, and/or immature kids at a time and drive at least two routes in the morning and two in the afternoon.

In the past, bus drivers didn’t need to worry about severe behavior issues. Threats of school consequences were enough to keep rowdy kids from misbehaving. The biggest threats against bus drivers were usually stink bombs and spit balls, and the occasional spilt drink. Now, bus drivers need to worry about incidents like what happened to Vincente Linan, when he was punched four times by an irate mom while trying to prevent a bus hijacking on August 17.

Bus Behavior by Rhamil Aloysius Taguba [STUDENT]

The need to resort to violence does not come without reason. Decades of research on psychological behavior points to one logical and possible conclusion: behavioral problems often stem from home. Children will typically adapt and model behavior from their guardians, parents, siblings, friends, or even their community. Low income and time-consuming jobs are also factors in child aggression, by forcing parents to spend time away from their children. Abuse, psychological damage and trauma all affect behavior as well. But, add in abuse, psychological damage, trauma plus the COVID-19 lockdown years; it’s beyond clear that mental health for adolescents has declined, as they continue to show more signs of anxiety, depression, and mental disorders.

To ensure bus driver safety, CCSD should install emergency buttons underneath the dashboard of all buses. These buttons should be a direct line to contact for help, similar to Onstar, and should be easily accessible in the case of an emergency. Other security measures like this have already been in place, like the inclusion of closed-circuit cameras on the bus, but nothing that would act as a panic button in case of emergency.

And although having a security guard ride on every bus may be a talking point for some, it could go wrong‌. Creating an oppressive environment could lead to students acting even more aggressively by prompting them to assert their dominance. Security guards may seem intimidating and threatening, especially in an enclosed space.

In no case should any situation, unless when lives are at stake, should violence be a solution. It’s a universal truth that parents need to set an example for their children and it’s inexcusable to be assaulting the person who takes you home. Bus drivers did not sign up for this type of behavior, nor should they ever have to put up with it.