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The Fight Against Bullies: How Kennewick Is Making Your Kids Feel Safer

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KENNEWICK, WA - NBC Right Now dug deeper after we received several calls and Facebook messages about kids getting bullied on local school buses.

We spoke with the Kennewick school district Friday about the bullying issues they are dealing with and what the district is doing to make your kids feel safe.

"You get this really bad feeling like you messed up and they make you feel like you've done something wrong," explained one girl we spoke with who wants to remain anonymous. She says she has been bullied on the school bus several times. She used to be pushed and shoved on the bus, but says the things that hurt most were not the actions but the words.

"At one point they called me ugly and fat and all that stuff so I went on a diet I would say to try and make myself look better," she said. "I realized that you can't do that to yourself."

Her parents eventually moved her out of Kennewick schools completely. School administrators admit students do not always feel safe on their buses.

"Of all places that the school district interacts with, they felt least safe on the bus," explained Dave Bond the Superintendent of Kennewick Schools.

But things have changed in the past couple years. Bus drivers now go through more extensive training to deal with incidents and students can anonymously report bullying incidents to the district.

"We certainly want to know if kids aren't feeling safe because our district's number one goal is the safety of our students," said Bond.

Any new school bus that is purchased has top of the line cameras installed. There are four of them on each bus so they can capture any incident from multiple angles. The new cameras can hold video for about a month so any incident reported in the last month can be found. This is above and beyond the old VHS tapes used that were recorded over every day. If an incident wasn't reported the same day, there was no way to go back and find the videos.

The bus drivers now have an incident button they push. If anything happens between students, the button marks the scene on a digital file that the school district can look up on their computers.

"We're just delighted that the community has been so supportive of our levies in the past because that enables us to be able to provide these extra safety features for their students," said Bond.

The latest school safety survey shows that kids are feeling safer on the bus. By next summer, the district hopes to have the new camera systems on every bus. Currently there are about 25 that still use tapes. As much as the cameras can help prevent bullying, the district says the fight against bullying is one that requires their efforts, the students reporting incidents and parents watching their kids.