The new school year just started up in my area, and the traffic to go with it. I had forgotten, as I drove around town over the summer, just how crowded the roads get when parents drive their children to school. It makes me wonder, not for the first or last time:
What’s wrong with a school bus?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 58% of student traffic fatalities occur when teens are driving or traveling with friends, 23% when traveling with an adult, and 1% when traveling on a school bus. The odds of your child making it to school on a school bus is much better than when you drive them, so why must we drive our children to school?
I know the argument my wife used when our children were young. She was a stay-at-home mom and just felt better when she dropped the kids off herself. Also she was concerned about bullying on the bus. The bullying concern, I can understand. Still, isn’t that part of growing up? Kids should learn to handle themselves socially not just at school, but on the bus as well. I understand not all parents feel that way, but if bullying is the number one concern, isn’t there a better way to handle that as well?
Speaking from experience, bullying at the bus stop can be an issue. I rode the bus as a kid and was bullied at the neighborhood bus stop. It was not a fun experience, but I survived. Also, it occurred at the bus stop, not on the bus with an adult present. In those days (1970’s), parents didn’t walk their kids to the bus stop like I see them doing in my neighborhood today. Parents in my neighborhood will also wait at the bus stop with their children. I see this as a good change to ensure student safety and combat bullying at the bus stop.
It just seems to me that with the proper planning and safeguards in place, we could save resources and time by allowing our children to ride the bus to school. I doubt many would agree though. It seems that many Americans today want to raise their children in a bubble of parental protection. Even though the numbers show our children are safer riding the school bus to school, our parental angst tells us otherwise.
Has the world gotten that scary that we don’t feel comfortable letting our kids ride the bus to school? I would guess that the bus ride to school is no more dangerous than attending school itself. If you will send your children to school, why not send them on the bus?
I feel a bit hypocritical writing this post, because my own children were driven to school. My wife and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on this issue, and since she’s the one that prepared them for school in the morning, I conceded the point. Still, I think it’s a discussion that should take place. I feel that my children missed out on an experience that could have taught them to be more independent and confident. Of course, I wouldn’t mind having all that gas money back either.