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Bullying and Violence on the School Bus: A Mixed-Methods Assessment of Behavioral Management Strategies

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2018
89 pages

This study examined the nature and prevalence of bad behaviors on school buses, behavioral management strategies commonly used to counter them, those strategies perceived by transportation officials to be most effective, the use of evaluation research on behavioral management strategies, and key challenges in establishing safe and positive school-bus environments.


Overall, findings indicate that transportation officials do not perceive most forms of misconduct to be very common on their district's school buses, and only a small minority of officials are regularly processing a large volume of disciplinary referrals for school-bus misconduct. The most commonly perceived form of school-bus misbehavior involves violations of basic rules (e.g., littering, vandalizing seats, yelling, or changing seats); however, this type of misconduct was perceived to be "common" rather than "very common." The next two forms of school-bus misconduct with the highest average scores were the use of profanity ("somewhat common") and bullying ("somewhat common"). Generally, 68 percent of respondents indicated that violations of basic rules were common, very common, or extremely common. Qualitative analysis of open-ended survey responses and interview transcripts further supported the view that school-bus misconduct typically involves minor rule violations. Many emphasized that lower-level violations can still have dangerous implications for bus safety, because they distract the bus drivers. Only a few survey respondents who answered open-ended questions about student misconduct described district-level conditions that they viewed as contributing to school-bus misconduct. The most commonly reported behavioral management strategies on school buses were disciplinary referrals, encouraging bus drivers to know the students who ride their buses, safely stopping a bus when misconduct occurs, and assigning seating. The least commonly used strategies were safety belts, reporting systems, bus monitors, student training programs, and cautionary films. On average, districts reported using about 13 behavioral-management strategies on their buses. Extensive tables and appended methodological instruments

Date Published: September 1, 2018