Parents claim children being bullied on school bus
A PARENT fears for their child's safety, claiming overcrowding is contributing to bullying on-board the Apple Tree Creek school bus route.
The parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the physical and verbal bullying has been endured by a range of students on the bus.
"It's not just my kid that's being bullied, kids from high school to Prep go on that bus because it's the only one there is," she said.
"One person I've spoken to said her kid has had a black eye, scratches and gouges - he's only in Year 1.
"Some of them get a warning and then if they do it again, a week suspension off the bus, if the bus gives out consequences, the school should too."
She said the issue has a flow-on effect, impacting the drivers.
"It's hard for drivers, they've got to watch the road and how can they isolate a bully with that many kids?" she said.
The mother believes the issue has worsened because of the reduction in bus numbers.
"There used to be two busses and now there is one and there's way too many kids on that bus," the parent said.
"Parents have said there's three to a seat, some are sitting in the aisle and some are standing up.
"What's going to happen if there's an accident - who's to blame if a kid gets decapitated or gets broken limbs?"
"I'm doing this for all of the kids on that bus getting bullied - it's a wake-up call, get another bus."
A spokesperson from the Department of Transport and Main Roads said student behaviour was managed by the TransLink code of conduct for school students travelling on buses in consultation with local schools and parents.
"We have not recently received any reports of behavioural issues or crowding on these services, however, we are currently undertaking an investigation to determine any rise in patronage on Apple Tree Creek services and any possible code of conduct breaches," the spokesman said.
"There have been no reduction in school bus services on the Apple Tree Creek routes since January 2015."
The code outlines the responsibilities of all stakeholders and is designed to ensure the safety and security of passengers.
When asked if the bus was overcrowded, owner and South Bundy Busses driver Richard Hayes said "no" and statements suggesting drivers ignored bad behaviour were incorrect.
"We operate the service on behalf of the Queensland Government and by the code of conduct they set," Mr Hayes said.
"The driver's primary role was to keep the students safe by concentrating on driving the bus.
"Students also have a responsibility to behave in line with the code of conduct."
"We welcome parents with concerns and will work in co-operation with the school and them to resolve any issues."
Childers State School principal Robyn Philpott took to the school's Facebook page to address the claims that "the school does nothing".
"That is not correct for our school - this school follows up every reported behaviour issue whether it be by an adult or a child," she said.
"The school works with bus companies and drivers to ensure safe travel and that has included putting adults on buses where we can.
"We do not issue consequences in addition to the consequences that the bus company has issued unless of course there was a very extreme incident.
"All of the current drivers and most of the past drivers of the buses that pick up from our school have the best interests of the students at heart and do work hard to ensure safe travel and will do their best to sort out issues."
Ms Philpott said despite inviting parents to form a bus committee to work with the drivers and company, usually no committee is formed.
The principal of St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Childers said there had been no complaints and Isis State High School's principal was unable to comment due to absence.
For the full breakdown of the code and responsibilities of each stakeholder, visit http://bit.ly/2j8fOOZ.