At a meeting of the Panther Valley School Board last week, business manager Kenneth Marx reported that cameras are installed on the school buses and students "know they are there."

There had been one glitch. Marx noted there has been a slight problem with recording stemming from digital cards, but that the problem has been corrected.

Congratulations to the Panther Valley School District for the installation of the cameras. Such cameras should be a requirement on all school buses.

Many jokes have been made by famous comedians about riding the school bus. These jokes deal with students getting picked-on, dealing with bullies, and enduring an otherwise hostile environment.

For the comedians, they might be jokes. For the students who are the victims, there's nothing funny about it.

Last year in Harrisonburg, Va., a 13 year old boy was beaten to death. The investigation on the incident was difficult and could have helped police identify the perpetrators if cameras had been on the buses.

The beating of a 13-year-old boy on a bus is capturing the attention of the nation, after a school bus driver did nothing to intervene.

School bus drivers often times are forced into a corner when bullying happens. In Harrisonburg, Va., they are not allowed to touch students when breaking up fights.

This is a whole different controversial subject, but once again cameras will help with identifying problem students.

School bus drivers have focus on the road, watch traffic and listen to their communication radios - it is no surprise that bullying can go unnoticed on school buses.

The National Association for Pupil Transportation has studied bullying on school buses extensively. Their research revealed many school bus drivers feel unequipped to deal with this growing problem. It leaves kids and their parents feeling hopeless to stop it.

This especially is true since in so many cases you have older students - or at least students a few years older - riding on the same buses as younger children.

In Frankfort, Ohio, an 8-year-old girl was badly beaten on a school bus by a 17-year-old girl because the high school student tripped over the elementary girl's foot.

It's not just bullying that make the cameras useful.

Such things as vandalism, the breaking of school rules, and provocative actions might be caught on film and help officials take the appropriate actions.

Obviously cameras won't stop every event from happening. But some instances might be deterred. And, the cameras will make it easier in most cases to determine the cause of problems.

There's one other big reason for school districts to add cameras. They surely can provide a safety net from potential liability issues.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com