Bullying is a serious concern for children, parents and educators. One in five students report being bullied, according to The National Center for Educational Statistics. It’s a startling reminder of the ongoing struggles many children face daily. The consequences of bullying extend beyond immediate distress and can contribute to long-term issues like depression, anxiety and academic challenges.

A critical yet often overlooked space where bullying occurs is on the school bus. Here, the responsibility to monitor student behavior falls on bus drivers.

However, their primary role is providing a safe ride, which can limit their ability to manage and respond to student interactions. This gap in supervision can lead to incidents that are not only distressing but also difficult to resolve without clear evidence.

Consider a troubling scenario:

A middle school student accuses a high school junior of harassment on the bus. The junior emphatically denies the allegations. The bus driver didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary. The bus has a standard camera in the front, but the footage is too far away and unclear to determine what happened, and there is no audio. Parents are unbelievably upset and threatening legal action. There is no way to truly know what happened, and everyone involved is alarmed and confused.

We’ve come a long way from black boxes

Modern school buses are often equipped with cameras, but they typically offer limited viewpoints and lack audio capabilities. Furthermore, the current camera technology on most buses does not provide access to live video and often requires extensive steps to be taken just to view the footage. This outdated technology falls short in providing clear and actionable insights. As our superintendents, district safety directors and school board members have reported, “Technology on most buses is from the 20th century. It’s time to upgrade.”

What’s the solution?

How do we extend student safety from the classroom to the school bus? The answer lies in embracing innovative solutions like Transportant, an all-in-one solution built for safety and efficiency in school transportation.

Real-time video feeds and second-by-second GPS fleet tracking allow for live monitor- ing so you can see where the bus is, and who is on it, throughout the entire route. With the capability to view multiple angles or even multiple buses simultaneously, it becomes easier to keep an eye on student behavior. The system even allows for direct communication and gives administrators the ability to speak into the bus, enabling immediate responses to bullying or behavioral issues before they escalate. In the event more help is needed, drivers can use an alert button to notify school administrators and timestamp the video for prompt review.

These features collectively enhance safety, but also foster trust and transparency among students, parents, and school administrators.

To learn how Transportant can help improve student safety in your school district, email rick@transportant.usor visit transportant.com.

Rick Smithuysen, a lifelong resident of New Jersey, has 30 years of experience collaborating with schools and districts to address bullying. His current focus lies in partnering with districts to improve student behavior on school buses.