Seatbelts On School Buses: Safer Or Not?

Seatbelts On School Buses: Safer Or Not?

Could seatbelts save the lives of children or would it just hinder them in an accident?
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There have been two school bus accidents in the state of Tennessee in less than two weeks. The first accident was in Chattanooga on November 21, 2016. Bus driver Johnthony Walker, 24, has been charged with several counts including vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Six children died as a result of the crash all between the ages of six and ten. Then on December 30, 2016 in Metro Nashville, Shirley Brown, 59, lost control of the bus she was driving and hit two vehicles. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but five children and one adult from the car she hit were transported to a local hospital. Now one question that keeps popping up over and over again is whether or not school buses should be required to have seat belts?

Several organizations have done research on the issue, as this has been a question going back several years, maybe even decades. CNN reported that The National Transportation Safety Board says that it takes more than seatbelts to prevent injuries. The bus drivers are trained to take extra precautions when it comes to school bus safety, including making sure the children all stay seated. The buses are required to pass certain tests and protocols to even be on the streets. And with recent years, most buses have been equipped to have two cameras, one in the front of the bus and one in the back of the bus. These cameras can help with future accidents.

When asked about whether or not school buses should be required to have seat belts, many members of the Murfreesboro and surrounding communities had a lot to say. Surprisingly it wasn’t a one answer fits all scenario, but rather a multitude of answers from both parents and non-parents alike. One parent, Caitlin Clark of Murfreesboro, said that she is “against them only because there is typically only one adult, the driver, and if something happens to the adult, the kids might be trapped if they cannot unbuckle themselves. If there was a fire, that could end up being a terrible tragedy.”

While that is a major concern for most people who are against seat belts, another parent in the community, Eva Hunter, suggests that the buses have “one single belt across the seat for maybe the first half or part of the bus where small kids are who aren’t developed enough to try and stop themselves from flying or jarring their bodies… also an emergency seat belt release in case of emergency.”

One bus driver for Rutherford County, who wishes to remain anonymous, also said she was against seat belts too. Her main concern is the time it would take to get all the children off the bus in the event there was an accident. Her bus can hold 90 children at capacity, yet the bus can burn up in two minutes. “Also if I was driving a bus with seat belts, I would feel like I have 90 something weapons behind me. They can choke each other and hit each other.”

Speaking of trying to get everyone out of their seatbelts in the event of an accident, it took rescuers several hours to get all of the children off the Chattanooga bus accident in November. Those children didn’t have seat belts and most were elementary school aged. A lot of the children couldn’t even tell you the names of their parents and probably couldn’t have unbuckled themselves if need be.

For every person not in favor of seat belts, you’ll find another person in favor. Lindsey Van Why of Ashland City, TN is one parent in favor of them. “I am 100 percent for seat belts on school buses. Elementary age students, especially, are so small… we are seeing more and more of these crashes due to, in my opinion, the growing list of objects that are easily distracting drivers.”

Another person in favor of seat belts is Theresa Mills of Jackson, TN. Her issues go beyond requiring seat belts though. When asked if she supported buses having seatbelts, she said, “Yes, as long as they aren’t sitting three two a seat, which is what often happens. Overcrowding is a giant issue and probably a larger safety concern than seat belts.” It turns out that overcrowding on school buses in Tennessee isn’t against regulations as long as it doesn’t exceed 20 percent of the manufacturer’s rated capacity. Many states follow the same rule including Georgia, Alabama and Texas.

For parents with children riding buses on a daily basis, rest easy. USA Today reported last year that fatal school bus accidents are rare. “From 2004 to 2013, U.S. drivers were involved in 340,039 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of those, 1,214, or just 4 percent, were classified as “school-transportation-related…”. Once averaged out, it shows that only six students per year are killed in a school bus related accident across the US. Odds are in your favor to let your kids ride the bus.

Cover Image Credit: BRUCE GARNER

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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