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A Dansville 6-year-old was left on a bus by himself for less than 10 minutes by a forgetful driver. The incident scared the little boy and made local news headlines.

A quick search of “child left on bus alone” yields dozens and dozens of news stories from all over the world. The most troubling and egregious incidents involve children with special needs. This happens so often, a company came up with an alarm system to prevent kids from being abandoned.

Leaving kids alone on buses is terrible! Drivers who do such a thing should be disciplined and maybe even fired. Every case is different. It’s entirely appropriate for news organizations tasked with holding government accountable to question officials about policies and procedures.

While this can be upsetting and scary for children and parents, virtually none of these incidents resulted in any physical harm. A child getting asphyxiated because of hot temperatures on a yellow school bus is extremely rare.

But in one South Carolina news report, a parent vowed to drive his children to school every day, even though thousands of children a year die in car accidents and almost none die on school buses. At what point are we losing perspective?

I suspect the sheer volume of “kids-abandoned-on-buses” stories has a little bit to do with something that has had a profound impact on our society: the fear of something bad happening to children left alone for any length of time, no matter how small the risk.

Update: A company compiled a list of incidents – ones that make the news. This really does happen a lot.

6 Responses to Kids Alone on Buses

  1. March 8, 2012 at 11:07 pm Lynn E responds:

    There have been many incidents of this here and around the country. I don’t remember this happening before the seat backs were raised so high that it blocks the view. Instead of always blaming people we need to look at what is causing them to make mistakes. Yes the backs were intended to be safer but no plans were put into place so that adults could still see the children on the bus. It’s terrible that it happens but let’s solve the problem and firing everyone is not an answer.

  2. March 8, 2012 at 11:37 pm Eduardo Ricardo responds:

    “asphyxiated because of hot temperatures on a yellow school bus is extremely rare.”

    So rare, not sure if it has ever even happened.

    whoops. just read link, sad.

    not for nothing, a bus driver is no easy task. Everybody thinks, wants easy answers. lot of responsibility for low pay. students are not bus drivers life. its parents job.

    Maybe for $10/hr, a good idea would be to have a extra adult on bus. even a volunteer?

    Why is THAT to much to ensure public safety?

  3. March 9, 2012 at 5:50 am Brian Kane responds:

    One way to create an “alarm” about kids on the bus is to teach kids to speak up. While it’s not their responsibility, if we teach behavior that encourages kids to speak up for themselves, adults will get a clue. And, you’re right about the overreaction; though that seems to be the norm these days.

  4. It sells papers and puts eyeballs on screens, but it does little to inform. If there was some sort of policy or pattern revealed by these cases, then it would indicate some reason for public input. But otherwise, its just one sleepy kid, one over-worked bus driver and a crappy story.

    Having said that, I’ll tell you this: if my kid got left on the bus for any extended period of time, I would freak the f* out. But that’s me. That’s my kid. That’s not multi-county wide audience material, IMO.

  5. March 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm Ruth Russell responds:

    I don’t see how driving your child to school every day is an extreme reaction or indicates that you’re losing perspective. It’s actually a nice drive that you can spend talking about important things with undivided attention.

  6. March 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm susan responds:

    A bus driver should walk the aisles and check the seats before he gets off the bus for the end of his shift.That seems simple enough to me.

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