BUS companies and councils have vowed to crack down on bullying as a Broadstone dad launches a hard-hitting campaign against the problem.
Paul Vodden’s 11-year-old son hanged himself after being taunted and attacked as he travelled to and from school on the bus.
Yesterday Mr Vodden, of Kingcup Close, was one of the speakers at a national transport safety conference where he campaigned for action to keep children safe on school buses.
The prevention of bullying on school transport in the Bournemouth and Poole area is the responsibility of individual schools who work in conjunction with bus companies and local authorities.
Jenni Wilkinson, head of marketing at Yellow Buses, said: “We have a designated Schools Liaison Officer who concentrates on the importance of behaving correctly on buses.
“If any incident is reported he will speak directly with the schools. A number have signed up to our Schools Charter which covers the importance of good behaviour when travelling by bus.”
She said bullying is also covered as part of driver training.
Morebus communications manager Nikki Honer said: “We take the issue of bullying very seriously and we have strict processes in place to help us identify and deal with situations if ever they arise.
“Our school buses are driven regularly by the same drivers, who come to know the pupils they are transporting. Our relationships with school management teams are also strong and if our drivers have any concerns whatsoever, these are passed on directly and immediately. Bullying is not and will never be tolerated on our buses.’"
Jane Portman, executive director of children and families services at Bournemouth council, said: “The safety and wellbeing of Bournemouth pupils is of paramount importance to us and bullying is an issue that we take very seriously. No child should have to suffer the fear and victimisation of bullying.
“All Bournemouth schools have robust anti-bullying policies and consider all forms of bullying unacceptable.”
Vicky Wales, Head of Children, Young People and Learning, at Poole council, said: “Fortunately incidents of bullying on school buses are rare but when we do receive them we work closely with schools to identify those responsible and ensure they are resolved.”
She said assessments of numbers and behaviour on school buses are carried out at the start of each school year and said random inspections are also carried out. Buses with CCTV are also used on routes where problems have been identified.
BEN Vodden was 11 years old and had just started secondary school when bullies made his life miserable on the school bus.
He told his parents he had no friends and was being bullied but their attempts to help him fell on deaf ears.
Even the bus driver stood by and sometimes joined in the insults, later saying he believed it was just banter and had no idea how serious the issue was.
After one upsetting journey Ben was found unconscious in his bedroom after hanging himself from his bunk bed.
The incident happened in West Sussex before Mr Vodden, his wife, Caroline, and Ben’s sister, Alice, moved to Dorset.