The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Bus Ride Home

Girls face constant harassment on school buses
Wryn Duepre
Constant stress: On many buses within the district, girls continually get harassed verbally and physically. This continues to happen every day, with nothing being done to stop it. The disruptions in the back of the bus not only harm the riders, but distract the drivers as well.

I feel uneasy as I board the bus each day. I know what happens every time. Catcalling. Slurs. My instinct tells me to run or “accidentally” miss the bus just so I don’t have to experience hell for 15 minutes. Thousands of students board a bus everyday, and on those, students are being sexually harassed, bullied, and experiencing other violating treatments. Yet, Creek has little to no regulations on buses to protect students. 

Everyday that I ride my bus suggestive comments are made. The revolting words about what the guys want to do with the girls on the bus make my stomach churn. On one ride, two boys made laughed about pedophilia. On another they joked about rape. The boys continued to sexually harass the girls for weeks.

“They’ll say stuff to [girls] that are very questionable and definitely classify as verbal sexual harassment,” freshman Emma Medlock said. 

Medlock says the boys talked about buying condoms and taking explicit pictures with a  freshman girl. Medlock claims this is one of the less graphic comments made. Even though the comment wasn’t directed at Medlock, she still remembers being very uncomfortable. 

These disgusting remarks made everyone uncomfortable, in turn creating a hostile environment. 

The harassment and fear continues off the buses with many girls fearing they may be followed home. I had to walk a friend of mine to her moms car because  she was terrified that the boys who had been harassing the entire bus ride would follow her home.  

The most disturbing part of this is  that the perpetrators treat it as a joke, and expect the victim to simply laugh it off. After guys make sickening “jokes” they simply laugh and continue to say another horrendous thing. On the rare occasion they do say sorry for their actions, those apologies were damage control so administration wouldn’t get involved. Some of the apologies were insincere and turned into more twisted jokes. 

According to  the Rape, Abuse, and incest National Network, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence, the effects of sexual harassment can include both mental issues such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, but also physical symptoms like headaches, increased stress, sleep disturbance. These side effects change the victims’ everyday life and can make it feel unbearable to live.   

Not only is sexual harassment prominent on buses, but so is bullying, including a wide variety of physical harassment, verbal berating, and even calling people slurs. 

I myself have experienced some bullying on my bus due to being a “ginger.” People make comments that feel so degrading. This created a deep desire to dye my hair. I begged my parents to let me be a brunette, or blond: anything but a redhead. These comments lead to me being overly insecure

The bullying comes mainly from comments, but in some circumstances, it can be physical. 

“[A senior] took this kid’s phone while [another senior] forced him down and they texted all the girls on his phone asking to go to homecoming,” an anonymous  freshman source said. 

Not only is this a form of physical harassment, because they were pushing the kid down, but also incredibly humiliating for the student. He was not only being bullied in front of his entire bus, which can be mortifying, but he was also facing embarrassment outside the bus.  

That sounds like a scenario out of my nightmares. Having to face public disgrace is many high school students’ worst fear. So when that fear comes true on the bus almost everyday it can affect a student’s mental health. According to the National Institutes of Medicine humiliation can be a factor in self harm and suicide and the most common stress inducer for teenagers.   

On one bus ride home the boys behind me were constantly leaning over and taking pictures of my friend and I. She told them to stop and they continued to do it. 

On another ride home my phone was snatched right from my hands. Unfortunately, it was unlocked so the thieves had the ability to look through my phone. After the ride they kept my phone until I pried it out of their hands. I was scared that they would steal my phone again, so now I rarely bring my phone out on the bus, and when I do I hold it down so people can’t grab it. 

Many others have experienced this annoying treatment. Although it isn’t as harmful as bullying and harassment, they still contribute to creating an unsafe and unbearable environment. 

But many of these incidents are not reported by drivers because they simply don’t know what’s happening. They’re mainly focused on getting students safely from one location to another, and can’t be expected to pay attention to both the road, traffic, and the students. 

Another factor that prevents bus drivers from knowing that these awful things are happening is the length of the bus.  The bus drivers are at the very front and the problems are in the very back. Buses are around 40 feet long, so drivers are left unaware of the unethical behaviors of students. The behaviors they are aware of are trivial compared to what actually happens.

“There is a little more freedom for kids to get up and walk around when they shouldn’t,”  CCSD driver Devin Monasmith said. 

While there is very little control of the bus while in motion, there are ways to improve the issues that arise on the bus. 

According to Ken Hanstein, a CCSD driver for 10 years, improving communication between administration, drivers, and students would significantly improve safety. 

“I would like to see the school communicate more with the kids,” Hansen said. “Everything that happens, whether a behavioral issue, or a safety issue, or a communication issue is always reported through a report or directly with my immediate supervisor, but after that I don’t know how or if it gets back to parents,”

Students are also responsible for reporting incidents, but many of them don’t  out of fear that the harassment would get worse or that administration wouldn’t do anything. I have yet to go to admin because I’m genuinely scared of what would happen. Would the harassment become targeted towards me? Would the admin even listen? These are the questions I’m sure many other students ask themselves when contemplating if they should report incidents. 

There are consequences in place to help create a safe environment for students on the bus. These protocols include a detailed list of infractions. Many issues on the bus fall  under the level two to level three infractions list,  ranging from discipline of  3 day bus suspension to year-long suspensions (List of School Bus Infractions. School Year 2022-2023). But how often are students actually facing the repercussions if no one knows it’s happening. 

Students are too scared to report incidents and bus drivers are unaware  of the repulsive behaviors, so administration has to take more initiative. They need to check the video records more,  create a system that better regulates the buses, and have more serious consequences for misconduct. Buses cannot continue to be a dangerous place for students. something has to change, and it’s up to administration. 

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About the Contributors
Sophia Hady
Sophia Hady, Assistant Opinions Editor
 Hi, my name is Sophia, I'm a freshman and this is my first year in the USJ. I joined journalism because it's a great opportunity to hear people's stories, as well as being able to have more freedom over my writing. Outside of school I'm either at a dance competition or listening to music. I love writing, reading, art and old movies.
Wryn Duepre
Wryn Duepre, Chief Photographer
Hi, my name is Wryn and I am a senior! I am the Chief Photographer for the USJ and this is my second year doing so! I love writing, reading, and taking pictures. I am a freelance photographer in my spare time and I love teaching photography and creating impactful photos that tell stories!

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