DVD Teaches Bullying Response Techniques for School Bus Drivers

Video shows a “worst-case scenario” of what can happen if bullying is not addressed immediately.

The Oregon Pupil Transportation Association (OPTA) and Dr. Allan Beane, founder of Bully Free Systems, have partnered to create an anti-bullying training video for the pupil transportation community, particularly school bus drivers.

SBF reported on the video in its coverage of last fall’s National Association for Pupil Transportation Summit in Memphis, Tenn. Beane and Chris Ellison, who’s now transportation manager at Eugene (Ore.) School District 4J and past-president of OPTA, gave a joint presentation where they discussed how to respond when bullying is seen or heard on the school bus. A preliminary version of the video, called “What Are You Going To Do?,” was also shown during the presentation. 

Now, the video is complete, and Ellison told SBF that a copy was sent to every school district in Oregon earlier this year. The state Department of Education has reviewed the DVD and authorized its use for training purposes in school bus driver certificate renewal — those drivers who view the video as part of a training program will receive credit for three hours of continuing education. 

“What Are You Going to Do?” depicts a student who is continually bullied on the school bus by a classmate. (The students in the video are from Greater Albany (Ore.) Public Schools’ drama department.) The victim reaches out to his school bus driver for help, but the driver is lax in addressing the situation, and he is also friends with the bully. After days of harassment and abuse from the bully, the student takes matters into his own hands, bringing a gun on the bus and holding the students and driver hostage.

The video concludes with a student on the bus calling 911 for help, and a deputy with a local SWAT team does a voiceover with information on how the SWAT team responds to a hostage situation on a school bus. Footage of a hostage response exercise is shown.

The DVD also includes a separate chapter showing how the driver should have intervened and responded to the bullying incidents to prevent them from escalating to the point where the student takes the bus hostage. Other “resolution” chapters address different types of bullying — verbal bullying, tripping, defiance, etc. — and how to respond to them.

Ellison said that OPTA worked on the DVD for more than a year, with filming taking place in 2010 and 2011. The association received input from its members for the content of the DVD, reaching out to trainers, administrators and others at school districts to learn what bus drivers were encountering in terms of bullying on their school buses.

Ellison said that in depicting the bullying and hostage situation, they wanted to show a “worst-case scenario” of what can happen if bullying is not addressed immediately. 

OPTA worked closely with Beane for the resolution videos on the DVD.

“We partnered with him to script the different scenarios, which he had heard from the various conferences that he’s participated in and getting feedback from various school districts nationwide,” Ellison explained.

Bully Free Systems has an eight-step response system for bullying: SCAT CASA, which stands for the following steps:

S — Stop and take control C — Confront the bully or bullies A — Apply emotional support for the victim T — Teachable moment for bystanders C — Consequences applied A — Area supervised S — Safety (protection) plan for victim A — Approved paperwork completed and parents contacted, if necessary

The resolution videos depict some of these steps in response to the various types of bullying. Beane told SBF that he has run those steps by transportation directors and bus drivers at operations to make sure that they’re practical and realistic, and in creating the resolution videos for the DVD with those steps, the goal was to depict realistic situations.

“All situations are going to be different, so the steps are flexible,” Beane said. “The main thing is to give people a tool and framework to work with. We wanted to be realistic, and we knew that if they [bus drivers] saw in the videos things that they’ve actually had to deal with or seen themselves, they’d be more open to applying the response steps.”

Director and videographer Derrick Cox agrees. 

“We didn’t want to do a video that was simply ‘checking a box,’” he told SBF. “We wanted to give the people watching it tools that they could take away from it. The thing that I like about the video is that it shows what can happen, how things can get escalated and the importance of addressing situations so that they don’t get out of hand.”

“What Are You Going To Do?” is available to purchase for $60. Shipping is included in the price of the DVD. Proceeds go toward future OPTA training videos and to Bully Free Systems. Those interested in purchasing a copy may contact Ellison at ellison@4j.lane.edu.

For more information on Bully Free Systems and its programs, visit www.bullyfree.com.

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