School bus bullying is an issue that many school leaders struggle with. Read this case study to see how one district in Texas addressed on-bus bullying and harassment.

Overview: Hardin, TX Independent School District is situated 45 miles north east of Houston, TX and serves a large rural community with an enrollment of 1,285 students across 4 school buildings. Hardin ISD did not feel it was faced with a significant bullying problem when the decision was made to implement the CyberBully Hotline, but were pleasantly encouraged by the results and what they learned after the program was implemented.

BusNot Seeing the Full Picture: Even though Hardin had implemented character education classes and instituted a student-teacher adviser program, district leadership knew that not all incidents were being reported. "Many students feel that going to speak with a teacher or staff member is perceived as tattling by their friends," said Tammie Marberry, Director of Student Services. "We wanted to offer a method of reporting that avoids the stigma of tattling and to make reporting more convenient and timely."

Implementation: Hardin ISD implemented the CyberBully Hotline at the outset of the 2012 school year. "We used the pre-printed CyberBully Hotline materials to quickly spread word about the program, which time saving for our staff," said Marberry. Awareness building efforts included:

  • A letter was sent to all parents explaining the purpose of the program
  • Information was posted on the district and school websites
  • Students received a wallet card and they were encouraged to save the number in their phones
  • High-impact posters were placed in high traffic areas throughout all school buildings
  • Personal referral of the number to students by teachers and staff

Immediate Results: "Our most significant area of use as been from students reporting incidents happening on our school buses," said Marberry. "We operate 16 bus routes and because of the size of our district the bus routes can be very long. Students make reports while the bus is still on its route allowing us to take immediate action." Hardin has also received numerous school bus bullying reports from parents of children who are reluctant to say anything. "Our most moving report was from a student who was worried about a friend who seemed depressed," said Marberry. "Through the CyberBully Hotline we were able to initiate a dialogue which eventually led to the troubled student getting the help they needed. I'm not sure we would have been able to intervene so quickly without the CyberBully Hotline."

Advice to Others: "The CyberBully Hotline gives our students a new voice," commented Marberry. "It's a great tool for our kids - easy for them to use and easy for us to manage." Marberry also advises, "I was worried about getting a lot of prank reports and that just has not materialized. Every once in a while I will get a message from a student just that just says 'hello' or 'who's there.'" Sure enough, a couple days later that same student will ask for help with a problem. I've learned that it's important that each message receive a positive, encouraging response because the students need to feel comfortable with the process."