2safeschools School Bus Driver Training Series

Kids in charge

KIDS IN CHARGEThe Kids In Charge© program was born in the 1992/93 school year, by James Kraemer, within a rural area's hostile school bus environment. It was a difficult birth. The concept was initially labeled by some as a program enacted by one person and done unilaterally and on his own. A battle began over what the expected behavior of kids should be, and eventually focused on what the expected behavior of the adults involved (school staff, administrators, parents and state regulators) ought to be. Eventually and with help from a variety of effective training, some amazing adults, including school principals, various administrators, great parents and some great kids (following the lead of adults honoring adults), helped to further develop the Kids in Charge program. The Kids In Charge program has survived the lions den and is now in process of development for national distribution and its' lions den.


By James Kraemer
Love & Logic Journal Tenth Anniversary Collection Violence becomes the norm in the school and on the school bus when the adults involved in the kids lives fight against rather than for each other. The problem of violence isn't so much with the kids, as kids have been about the same throughout the century's, often emulating various aspects of the adults in their lives. But the collective behavior of adults does change and can drift from the responsible to the 'ill'-responsible and vice-versa. Good and decent front line adults (parents and school staff) can end up the bad guys when time isn't taken to communicate effectively with each other and acquire a clear understanding about our nation's public school system, how it works and how to intervene. Here's a quick refresher course:

Back In Control The job of the parents and school staff, the front line "grass roots" adults (you in the trenches), is to develop a plan to help keep kids safe, fight for each other rather than against each other and to petition the school board what you want for your school. And, where applicable, to petition the legislature. The job of the bureaucracy is to take the credit.

The lack of appropriate school staff/parent mutual honoring and the resultant confusion is inadvertently emulated in the behavior of too many otherwise great kids. Some public education experts confidently point out the terrible way some moms and dads treat each other and their kids and how that can effect their kids behavior at school. However, some of the same experts go silent when parents point out that school staff dishonoring parents and each other can cause the same bad behavior in kids at school, on the school bus, in the community and in the home.

An appropriate example might be how the bureaucracies anti-smoking campaigns may have actually escalated smoking among many teenagers. How can kids learn to respect one another and honor the adults in their lives when too many adults (regardless of the label) have so much trouble honoring each other?

Scene from Operation School Bus Safety When kids find discord among the adults in their lives they can become confused, loose their foundation and begin developing the kind of skills most adults dislike. They soon discover how to pit adults against each other, parent against parent, parents and staff against each other, even staff against staff. Kids can become quite skillful at manipulating the adults in their lives and in the process lose the skill of courtesy and respect toward persons (including themselves) and toward property (including their own property). Adults can find the child's acquired behavior so confusing they begin blaming other adults or themselves; when what is actually needed is a commitment from the adults involved to begin honoring each other and each others responsibilities, turf and rights.

When mom and dad dishonors their school and when the school staff dishonors mom and dad, kids usually haven't the maturity to make sense of that adult misbehavior and can begin to emulate the behavior of the adults in their lives with their own (often exaggerated) version of dishonoring adults. I believe this is the case for virtually any out-of-control and violent school or school bus.

Here's one example of how a well intended (but unskilled) peace-maker can set up a vicious circle of dishonor and violence:

A common mistake (and usually unintentional) is for a school administrator to say (for example) to the bus driver and concerning a child's misbehavior, "We're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior on the bus," then separately and quietly agrees with the parent that the bus driver's "too picky." The parent feels justified and may escalate. The child emulates the parent's justification and escalates on the bus. A viscous circle of dishonor and violence begins and, like an illness, can quickly infect other kids and the adults in their lives. All this commotion can eventually lead to kicking the adult (the bus driver) off the bus rather than dealing appropriately with the offending child and offending adults involved.

Scene from Strategies (STS) Some kids, for whatever reason, seem to love manipulating adults and when there's discord among the adults involved often take advantage at the expense of some of the adults involved. Kids In Charge interferes with this and other kinds of adult and child misbehavior, permitting the adults involved to stop blaming each other, society or themselves.

Kids In Charge addresses adult issues and begins the process of helping adults to identify and separate the genuine from the deceptive, to fight for and not against each other, to focus on the child's misbehavior and make informed, supportive, effective and appropriate decisions that help keep kids safe:

Love & Logic Newsletter In the next section (when available), We'll look more at the Kids In Charge philosophy, and later in this book we'll examine the processes and forms. For now, if you don't already have the following "training tools," please obtain Cline-Fay's "Love and Logic Journal Tenth Anniversary Collection," and consider their newsletter. Also, please obtain Victoria Miller's book, "Defensive Parenting for the 21st Century" and one of Bodenhamer's books, "Back in Control" or "Parent in Control." Please also obtain The National PTA's "Operation School Bus Safety" (a free safety video, $5.00 shipping), available to schools and parents from Navistar International. (Links are listed at the bottem of this page.)

School Districts: Please consider purchasing "Be Cool, Follow The Rules," a national (budget minded) school bus safety program, available from Navistar. Also, "Stratigies - Dealing With Young Riders," available from STS. Strategies is in use by over 1,000 school districts in the U.S. and Canada. These video training programs provide your bus drivers and school staff with a foundation in effective student management on the school bus through high school age.

These programs are fully compatible with and greatly enhance the Kids In Charge program. They also provide an appropriate and versatile child management foundation necessary for promoting a safe school bus. Links to these program sites are available below and also available from the FRONT PAGE side bar (CONTENTS) in the training section.

SCHOOL STAFF AND PARENTS: Make sure your bus drivers are given frequent and effective student management training. Budget cuts in some school districts has brought about some lacking in this area. Find out if this lacking is occurring in your school system and, if so, accept your part of the responsibility to get it corrected.

Finally, the adults involved should move away from arguing about rules and focus on communicating this expectation, concerning the school bus:


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