Hell on wheels for bus drivers

Release date: 26/08/2012

Out-of-control school students are causing widespread mayhem on the state’s buses and foul-mouth parents are abusing drivers who dare complain.

Briana Domjen, Sunday Telegraph

More than 4000 students a year are caught assaulting drivers and one another in addition to smoking and spitting at motorists.

But the Department of Education and Training says it’s not their problem and Transport NSW has also washed its hands of the problem.

Desperate drivers are begging authorities to reinstate conductors on all NSW school buses. Clinical psychologist Dani Klein said today’s school children were out-of-control because discipline at home and at school was non-existent.

"This 'I' generation tends to be a little more self centred, indulgent and narcissistic and as a result, they do tend to have the attitude that it doesn’t matter if you’re an adult or a person of authority, I will do what I want," Dr Klein said.

"Almost irrespective of the socioeconomic demographic, parents tend to be a little more absent these days." Dr Klein said today’s parents were too quick to defend their children.

"This is a generation of parents that are fire extinguisher parents," she said.

Transport NSW statistics revealed 22 students a day were disciplined for misbehaving on NSW buses, with 23 banned from the network for an extended period for a variety of serious offences, including assault, vandalism and endangering the lives of fellow passengers last year.

A further 758 students had their passes suspended while 3,416 escaped with a warning.

But the Transport Workers Union, which represents bus drivers, said this was the tip of the iceberg with the majority of offences going unreported.

"On a daily basis they have to put up with being verbally abused and threatened," NSW state secretary Wayne Forno said. "I think the schools should play more of a role along with the parents." But the Rail, Tram and Bus Union president Gary Way said conductors are needed on buses to safeguard their drivers. "Where they have found problems, the more supervision the better," he said.

Veolia Transport bus driver Jill Jefferies, who has been behind the wheel of school buses on the Hornsby route for four years, said parents were worse than the students.

"If you had to compare adults to the children it’s the adults who are the problem," the mother-of-five said.

Menindee Public School principal Brian Debus said kids were no worse behaved than they ever before. "Sometimes we have a minor problem but we put some staff on the bus and it clears up," he said.

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