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Queens Chronicle

Anti-bullying program applauded by state

Senate honors Whitestone bus company for promoting safety

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Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:58 pm, Thu Apr 10, 2014.

A private school bus company in Whitestone is doing its part to ensure that bullying becomes a thing of the past.

Vallo Transportation has created its own No Bullying Zone, with the help of its employees, parents and students. The company has about 110 buses and transports Queens students to the Bronx High School of Science and a private school in the city, and handles some special needs routes for the Department of Education.

The state Senate recently honored the firm in Albany with a proclamation for its campaign.

Vallo began implementing its anti-bullying program last fall by first providing all its workers with extensive training to recognize bullying behavior, how to properly intervene and how to create a supportive school bus climate.

Linda DeSabato, Vallo president, said bullying is an issue today, but that her riders “are wonderful kids,” though admitting it could happen anywhere.

DeSabato believes it’s important that students feel safe when riding on Vallo buses and though she knows of no negative experiences, wanted to be proactive in fighting such negative behavior.

Students and parents are also involved in the campaign. Parents were given anti-bullying information on how to recognize warning signs, effects of bullying and where to go for help. Students were asked to take a pledge to respect each other, to not participate in bullying behavior and to speak up to help a classmate who is being bullied.

Linda Kleingardner, director of safety training for the bus company, told the Chronicle that the basis of the initiative is the state’s Dignity for All Children Act that seeks to provide public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from “discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.”

The safety director noted that bus drivers are trained to separate children, if necessary, but that with all the publicity on bullying, “we are not seeing it as it used to be. It’s more subtle.”

If drivers see negative behavior they inform officials at the bus company who report it to the school.

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