When an injury happens to a child, the stakes are immediately higher than if the same injury happened to an adult. Not only is there an immediate injury to be dealt with, but the fact that a child is still under development means that there are long-lasting effects to be considered, as well.
In a recent Dallas area news report, a special needs child was left on a school bus when the bus driver neglected to ensure that the child exited the bus at her school stop. Upon returning to the bus barn, the driver inspected the bus once more and discovered the child, averting any injury as a result of the initial negligence. The mother of the child, however, was infuriated by the oversight, and even the most cursory Internet search on the subject of children forgotten on school buses yields dozens upon dozens of similar incidents of bus driver neglect, many of which placed the child in even greater peril than the Dallas incident.
In one instance, a special needs bus passenger with Down’s Syndrome was left in a bus terminal alone for three hours before being discovered. In other instances too numerous to count, children were forgotten and left to languish in dangerous conditions exacerbated by extreme temperatures. In addition, special needs children already have medical and/or emotional needs that require precise care, and those entrusted with their safety should be well-informed of the concerns and dangers that are unique to their well-being. If an employer places an employee in charge of children—especially children with special needs—without providing adequate instruction with regard to the critical aspects involved in care and supervision, then the employer is remiss, at best.
In instances where injury to a child has occurred on a school bus, accountability may extend far beyond bus driver neglect. Were aides present to assist the bus driver? Does the school share responsibility in ensuring that every child exits the bus at the school? What about the contractors who provide the bus transportation? Have they failed to provide adequate safeguards against such incidents?
Injuries to children due to school bus negligence deserve far more scrutiny than they receive, so every parent whose child has been affected by bus driver neglect represents a vital voice to be heard in order to bring those responsible to task not only for the safety for their own child, but also for the many children who will follow.