It is a fundamental principle of Buggy that all members of the community – drivers, support staff, parents, and riders – are expected to treat each other with courtesy and respect. We look to each of you to help us protect this unique and vibrant community. Everyone has the right to be safe, secure, and protected so that they may flourish without fear of unfair treatment or harassment.
Bullying must be dealt with swiftly and firmly because it is a grave matter. Bullying can cause severe and long-term physical and psychological damage to a victim. Therefore, the Buggy community has a responsibility to combat bullying. The action taken must take carefully into account the needs of both the victim and the offender.
Failure by any member of the Buggy community to treat others with courtesy and respect undermines Buggy's beliefs. Therefore, we will always regard it as a serious matter. Buggy's approach to bullying is straightforward: it is always unacceptable. It damages children, and Buggy will, therefore, do all we can to prevent it.
Bullying involves an imbalance of power that manifests itself in several ways: it may be physical, psychological (knowing what upsets someone), derives from an intellectual imbalance, or having access to the support of a group, or the capacity to isolate socially. It can result in the intimidation of a person through the threat of violence or humiliation. Sometimes the perpetrator is just being thoughtless. Bullying causes fear and distress for the victim(s) and may distract them from their academic goals. It may also affect other riders who witness it, and it can damage the atmosphere on Buggy.
Any behavior which makes another person feel uncomfortable or threatened may be construed as bullying – whether intended or not. There are many definitions of bullying, but most have three things in common:
- First, it is deliberately hurtful behavior.
- Second, it is repeated often over some time.
- Third, it is difficult for the victim to defend themselves.
Buggy, at all times, seeks to promote a culture of courtesy and mutual respect amongst all members of our community. Therefore, Buggy implements disciplinary sanctions for bullying behavior. The consequences of bullying reflect the seriousness of the incident so that others see that bullying is unacceptable.
Buggy aims to sustain an inclusive environment where anyone in our community can openly discuss the cause and nature of their bullying without fear of further bullying or discrimination. Buggy will remind members at the start of each semester about the definition of bullying. Notice will include the action they should take if they are victims of bullying or become aware of another member's bullying. We also give parents, riders, and drivers clear that using any prejudice-based language is unacceptable. We aim to challenge the use of such language at any time.
Buggy aims to make it easy for anyone to report bullying via email to email@example.com, text, or info on the 'Report Bullying' signs displayed on every Buggy. In addition, signs will detail actions that members should take if they know that bullying is happening.
We understand that the effectiveness of our policies will increase when Buggy drivers understand the principles and purpose of our approach, how to resolve problems, and where to seek support. Therefore, drivers will receive anti-bullying instructions as part of induction, and the training is ongoing.
Buggy records incidents when they meet the criteria of bullying noted in the definition section. We will treat incidents that do not meet this benchmark sensitively and are concerned with appropriate record-keeping. We understand that they could be a precursor to bullying (e.g., if repeated). Buggy management will identify any patterns relating to bullying behavior and decide necessary action to prevent recurrences of such behavior.
Buggy wants it to be clear to parents that we will not tolerate bullying. Furthermore, we want them to be aware of the procedures to follow if they believe another parent is engaging in the act of bullying or their child is a victim of bullying. Parents should feel confident that Buggy will take any complaint about bullying seriously and resolve the issue to protect anyone in our community. Buggy also expects all parents to reinforce the value of good behavior at home and in any chat groups, i.e., WhatsApp, FB.
Schools and 3rd parties
Buggy will work with the broader community, such as the police, review websites, schools, and children's services, where bullying is particularly serious or persistent. Such as when a criminal offense may have been committed, including working with other agencies and the wider community to tackle bullying outside Buggy.
All reported bullying incidents would be taken seriously and investigated by drivers, overseen by a Buggy supervisor.
Investigations would involve interviewing alleged victims and perpetrators and witnesses if other riders present at the time of the incident or who have additional relevant information.
In cases where an allegation lacks evidence (e.g., independent witnesses) and the suspected bully denies involvement, we may not be able to apply a penalty. However, we will take the following action:
- Buggy will keep a report of the investigation on file.
- All of the persons involved will be made explicitly aware that the behavior in question is unacceptable. Furthermore, should they be interested in this or similar conduct in the future, the Buggy would take serious action.
In an instance of alleged bullying, the driver or a supervisor (depending on who receives the report) is responsible for initiating Buggy's response. They may take advantage of the expertise of any other staff member, subject to the following considerations:
The drivers must inform the appropriate supervisor.
The supervisor should enter details of the incident on the Bullying file.
When a driver contacts a parent regarding bullying, the driver or parent must notify a supervisor(s).
If racist behavior is involved, the 'Response to Racist Incidents Policy' should be followed. In addition, the supervisor should use the Racist Incident Recording Form to record the incident.
Both parents will receive reports of severe bullying in a clear, calm, and reassuring way.
In dealing with bullying, the following considerations should apply:
- Always talk sensitively and privately to both victim and bully.
- A written and dated statement should be made and kept on file.
- Reassure and guarantee support to the victim
- Try not to allow the victim to feel silly or inadequate.
- Consider requesting psychological support.
- The victim may need advice on how to respond to or avoid similar incidents in the future.
- The bully must see and feel the Buggy's (and their parents') disapproval and understand that their acts must stop.
- Try to get the bully to see the victim's point of view - empathy is the key to improvement; This may entail a face-to-face meeting with a group, dealing with the riders separately.
- The bully may also require follow-up support and thought to be of help; the bully should be involved in reparatory behavior, including formally expressing an apology to the rider(s) who are hurt.
- Repeated bullying is likely to lead to the management reconsidering a rider's membership on Buggy by the procedures set out in Buggy's Terms of service.
Riders are encouraged to approach drivers with concerns about the bullying of a fellow rider. For fairly investigated allegations, riders who express such matters should be allowed to remain anonymous while treating the problem seriously. The rider and the statement date should write down information or evidence they may supply.
Punishment needs careful consideration and must go hand in hand with psychological advice and, if required, counseling. For penalties, allegations must be substantiated (to a reasonable standard of 'on the balance of probabilities including and not limited to using either camera footage, credible eyewitnesses, or a combination of both).
We will consider the following:
- First, the bully may have had some provocation and needs to be acknowledged.
- The bullying behavior may be related to a deeper issue in that person's life and circumstances.
Under Buggy's Terms and Policy, anyone found to have bullied another member of the Buggy community can expect to receive a penalty such as:
- One, Be assigned a seat on the van.
- Two, Be moved to a different van.
- Three, Be suspended for 48 hours or more from the Buggy community.
- In addition, drivers who don’t remove negative online reviews and refrain from further malicious acts will face immediate removal from Buggy’s community.
- Finally, parents who don’t remove online reviews and refrain from further malicious acts will not receive service from Buggy and face immediate removal from our community.
In the event of three verifiable bullying episodes occurring on Buggy during the school year, we will suspend the rider from our service for 90 days. Anyone removed may be permitted to return to Buggy only after completing an anti-bullying class. In addition, written confirmation from a licensed psychologist or psychotherapist confirms that the person has received counseling for this issue. A permanent return to Buggy will be on a "trial" basis and contingent on no further bullying episodes reported against them for the remainder of the school year.
Suppose the supervisor and management regard the circumstances and nature of the bullying as severe enough. In that case, Buggy will consider immediate permanent removal from our community.
Although bullying in itself may not be a criminal offense in the FL, some types of harassing or threatening behavior – or communications – could be a criminal offense. For example, under the Protection from Harassment under Florida State Statute 784.048.
In the case of an offense committed, the Buggy driver or supervisor will seek assistance from the police. For example, harassment means to engage in the course of conduct directed at a specific person who causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.
Bullying Outside Buggy
Bullying outside Buggy reported to us will be investigated and acted on by the steps above. Our management will also consider whether it is appropriate to notify the police or other agencies of the action taken against anyone in our community. We do this to ensure we take proper steps against misbehavior that could be criminal or pose a serious threat to the public.