WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - The Palm Beach County School District is looking to hit the brakes on what it considers a growing problem, bullying on the bus.
More than 700 district bus drivers will get extensive training on Thursday solely devoted to preventing and stopping bullying.
"To me it's getting worse," said Vanya Hayes, a district bus driver of 16 years.
Hayes said it is already hard enough to drive a 40-foot bus, but having nearly 80 kids riding along only adds to the challenge. But when someone on the bus starts picking on another student, Hayes job becomes incredibly difficult.
"We don't want our kids hurt, we don't want anybody's kids hurt," said Hayes.
Hayes said the district is now treating the bus as an extension of the classroom. If kids act up on the bus, they get written up.
If a bully is a repeat offender, they kicked off the bus for good.
"Riding a bus is a right not a privilege," said Carl Boucard, the general manager for the Palm Beach County School District bus fleet.
Bouchard said when it comes to handling a bully on the bus, drivers are trained to use their voices first to deal with the problem.
If the situation does get violent, drivers are not supposed to get physically involved. They're instructed to pull over in a safe spot and call the police.
"We don't want drivers to be involved in a physical touch, pulling one another. The driver can get hit and the driver itself may be involved in the fight," said Bouchard.
Bouchard is heading the bully training. He said it is as much about punishment as it is about prevention.
"A driver has to be like an eagle," said Bouchard.
Bouchard said he is teaching bus drivers to notice when kids move from seat-to-seat.
He also said drivers have to be verbal from the start of when they suspect bullying.
A mother herself, Hayes said the situation is personal.
"I wouldn't want my child hurt and I wouldn't other child hurt either," said Hayes.
The training starts on Thursday.
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