All the mothers who had to put their young children on buses for the first time last week know what a tough thing that can be. You wonder if they’ll be safe to and from school, if they’ll be afraid of the bus, how long the ride might be, and you wait patiently to greet them as they walk down their bus stairs safe and sound at the end of the day. But parents of special needs children probably worry even more and must rely on the bus companies and matrons to attend to their child when they are not there.
Veteran bus moms will tell you that the start of a new school year is particularly rough when it comes to bus service. New routes are explored and for the first few days you hope your child gets home safely and at a reasonable time. You would think extra attention would be paid to the very young and the special needs children, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Last week on the first day of school, 3-year-old Levi Vidal from Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, who has autism, had to endure a five-hour ride home from his school in Manhattan and finally arrived home distraught in a soiled diaper. His mother Serena, was naturally irate, reports the NY Daily News:
“He was delirious, starving and in his full diaper. It’s insane, heartbreaking. How can you treat kids like that?”
The following day, Levi’s dad drove him home from school but on Friday, Levi took the bus again and, incredibly, got home in four hours, instead of five! Is that supposed to be an improvement?
Sadly, Levi is not the only child enduring horrific bus rides.
Dr. Sofia Shapiro’s 4-year-old son, Efraim, who also has autism, was forced to endure three-hour rides last week from his Manhattan school back to his home in Riverdale in the Bronx, which is normally a 20-minute drive.
Why is it so difficult to make practical bus routes for children? Bus company spokespeople and even politicians can say whatever they want and list all the logistical reasons behind their routes. However, the bottom line is that the priority must be the safety and comfort of our kids, not what is cheaper for the bus companies. It is yet another instance where we (as a city and as a country) say we put children first, but in reality place the almighty dollar above all.
If you are a NYC parent, check out the Facebook page New York City Parents Fed up with Transportation Troubles. If you live outside of NYC, tell us, do you have these types of problems with your school buses?
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