Pupils get tough about violence on the buses

6th December 1996 at 00:00
Children gave their perspective on the causes of trouble on school buses and tried to solve problems in a report compiled with a Yorkshire bus company.

The dossier told of fighting, vandalism, noise, litter throwing, persistent bell ringing, smoking and distracting the driver. But pupils claimed that asking parents to travel on the buses with them would only make problems worse.

They say troublemakers should be banned or forced to pay for the damage. They call for regular drivers and an inspector to keep order. And they thought playing music would be helpful too.

The report, published by Kirklees Council in consultation with Huddersfield-based bus company Yorkshire Traction, shows most problems occur on the journey home. Behaviour is especially bad towards the end of term.

Students from Honley High School spoke about behaviour on school buses. Boys and girls aged between 11 and 14 said journeys were rowdy and seats were "reserved" for older and stronger students. Others would sit on the dashboard distracting the driver.

One boy said: "Upstairs and downstairs the oldest ones get the back seats. You tend to get pushed about if you go to wrong place."

A girl added: "I sit downstairs. Upstairs - the back seats - that's where the tough people sit."

Another student said one boy was dragged to the back of the bus and tied up with school ties on the last day of term. "He had flour and water tipped over his head and names written on him. The driver did not know about it - it happened upstairs and bags get put over the periscope so he can't see."

Drivers described more serious incidents of vandalism and graffiti, including damage to seats and broken windows.

"Water bombs are a recent innovation," one said. "Then there's spitting out of the front windows. Minor fights. Broken seats and graffiti. . . there have been examples of young people setting light to the clothes of the kids in front. "

Honley High School tackled the problem by making culprits clean the bus or pay for the damage. When there are serious disturbances the bus returns to school, sometimes just the threat of such action is enough to calm and resolve the situation.

Students say banning troublemakers and making them pay for the damage would do most to control problems but parents travelling with them would be too embarrassing and having fifth and sixth formers in charge would not work.

Students said it would be helpful to have regular drivers who didn't shout at them. Students are now being encouraged to develop their own code of behaviour for travelling on school buses.

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