PEACE TALKS: Sergeant Susan Preston chats with Byron Bay Primary students Brynn Congdon, Tezu Harrison, Kai Sparrius and Lachlan Gordon on the school bus this week.
PEACE TALKS: Sergeant Susan Preston chats with Byron Bay Primary students Brynn Congdon, Tezu Harrison, Kai Sparrius and Lachlan Gordon on the school bus this week. Kate O’Neill

Putting the brakes on school louts

THE reputation of the school bus as a place for bad behaviour and bullying is being tackled head-on by Byron Bay police.

Sergeant Susan Preston has begun a campaign that involves police officers travelling on local primary and high school buses, allowing them to interact with students and bus drivers and discuss any problems.

Sgt Preston, who has three school-age child- ren, said the campaign was an attempt to be more proactive in helping schools manage bullying.

Bullying was common on the bus, with children away from watchful teachers and parents.

“There's a bit of pushing and shoving, and that's something that can escalate,” she said.

The police presence on the bus acted as a deterrent to potential bad behaviour, and also helped improve relationships between police and school-age children.

“It's good for children to see police officers in their own environment,” Sgt Preston said. “They ask us questions and it calms their behaviour.

“It also makes us a bit more approachable and teaches kids not to be fearful of police, because I don't think they see enough of us on an every day level.”

A team of police did the first bus trips a couple of months ago and another round this week, and according to Sgt Preston they received a very positive response.

“The kids were most intrigued, the teachers were very supportive, and the bus drivers asked us to come back anytime,” she said.

Police will continue the trips on an ad hoc basis, or at the request of a particular school.

Sgt Preston said irregular trips gave police a surprise element that would hopefully deter bad behaviour in the intervals.



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