This will be the first school year in Montgomery County that cameras will be attached to the extending arms of school buses. Those cameras will be on the lookout for vehicles that drive past buses when they are stopped and the arm is extended.
Drivers who break the law will face fines of $250. The county fire department is also warning drivers that children, particularly younger ones, are not always the most reliable pedestrians. They're urging drivers to go slower in areas where kids are walking.
Meanwhile, county authorities are also stepping up efforts to combat cyber-bullying among students. County state's attorney John McCarthy says it's part of an overall Internet safety campaign that his office, the police, and school system are pushing.
"We have 150,000 kids, and if you are enrolled in a school in Montgomery County, you will be receiving information about Internet safety," he says. "Things as basic like for very young kids about not sharing personal information with people you meet online... not meeting people offline you do not know."
Since kids are typically far more knowledgeable about social networking sites than their parents, McCarthy has a few bits of advice for parents who may see sudden changes in their child's behavior, which may be a possible sign they are a victim of cyber-bullying.
For Facebook, McCarthy suggests a move that will likely embarrass many children. "Make sure your child friends you," he says. "So that you'll be able to monitor online the kinds of chatter and kinds of things that are being directed to your child online."
And if a parent is not sure what "LOL," "SMH," or "OMG," may mean, McCarthy says they aren't the only ones. "The police, the state's attorney's office, and the schools all distribute vocabulary lists of what these words mean, and what these abbreviations mean," he says.
McCarthy says 88 percent of kids between the ages of 13 and 17 have been subject to some form of bullying, be it online or face-to-face, and underscoring the severity of the problem.
A slate of new legislation has received an endorsement by the Virginia State Crime Commission that they say would give law enforcement more tools to investigate and prosecute child abuse.