Now that school is back in session for most kids, safety is a top concern for parents. This can include transportation safety, as well as in-class scenarios and keeping kids safe after school when parents haven’t made it home from work yet.
We’ve put together some tips for you to help keep your kids safe and things to consider as you get back into the academic routine.
Safety on the School Bus
A lot can happen on the school bus ride to school including bullying and other things kids don’t want their parents to know about. Make sure you take time to talk about how their school bus experience is and what goes on during the trip. As your child boards and exits the bus, make sure they know it is important to always remain in site so the bus driver always knows where they are. Make sure your child knows that the bus driver is in charge and, if the driver gives your child instructions, they need to listen. And, most important, make sure your child remains in his seat during the ride to and from school and does not leave it until the bus is at full stop and at his appropriate destination.
Staying Safe After School
You should know what time school ends and, after doing practice runs of the trip home from school, you should know what time your child should be checking in at home. Always make sure they report in to you before they continue on with any post school activities.
It’s a good idea to keep a list of all emergency phone numbers for your child and make sure it is easily locatable. Make sure your child memorizes phone numbers. In today’s age, we all have cell phones. If we want to call somebody we search for their name or picture in our phones and press dial. Very few people today, and more of them children, can recite a person’s phone number. If that cell phone is taken from them or lost, they may have no way of contacting help or a loved one. Take time to drill a few important phone numbers every once and a while.
Talk to someone who lives close to you and establish a trusting relationship with them. Make sure they are OK knowing that you will be letting your child know they may go to them in the case of an emergency.
Let your child know that bullying is not tolerated by yourself, the school or law enforcement. Reach out to your school and school system to understand what their policies are for bullying. Bullying is now a national epidemic, so each school should be able to provide you with information.Let your child know that it is OK to report to an adult if they observe a bullying situation to.
Take note of any sudden changes in your child’s behavior. If they become withdrawn, less social, drop in academic performance, depressed, or lose weight and appetite, this maybe be a sign of him or her being bullied.
Make sure you are encouraging and empowering your child in a positive way. Self-confidence is the leading factor when it comes to bullying. Look for activities for your child that will boost their self-confidence and reward them for their accomplishments so they feel proud of who they are.
Going to school
If your child walks or rides a bike to school, take time with them to travel the route they will take so that you and your child know how much time it will take them on average to get to school before the bell rings. It is also important that both you and your child know that the practiced route that you both are aware of is the one that you will take every day. If your child is unusually late and does not contact you making you aware of tardiness, you can recount the path that they should have been taking to help locate them.
While practicing your child’s route to school make sure you point out safe places to go in the event of an emergency, such as a police station, public building or a trusted neighbor. Encourage your child to use the “buddy” system. Get in touch with other parents and plan on having your children travel to school together. There is safety in numbers.
Make sure your child is not traveling in the dark. If they must do so, make sure you show them a well-lit path to take and have them wear clothing with reflector tape that will make them visible to traffic. Don’t forget that as winter approaches, it is still dark in the morning and it gets dark earlier in the evening.
Take note of what shoes your child is wearing to school. This may seem like an odd suggestion to many, but it is an important thing to note. In most kidnappings, the kidnapper will be able to disguise a child by giving them a hat, sunglasses, a new shirt and pants. However, it is very unlikely that they will have a replacement pair of shoes that will fit the child. By taking note of your child shoes it may be something that will catch the eye of those who are on the lookout.
Let your children know it is OK to walk away from a stranger and drawing attention to themselves if they feel uncomfortable. The child should not feel like they are disrespecting an adult if they do not feel comfortable.
Teach your child to be aware of their surroundings and to scan the area of any potential risks. I talk about this in great detail in my book, “Personal Protection Handbook.” Learning how to scan and survey and area or crowd is important to prepare yourself for any decision you may need to make in your route.
Make sure your child understands to obey the traffic signals and become a defensive pedestrian. Just because a car may have their turn signal on does not guarantee they will be turning. Also just because you have a “safe to walk” light does not mean a car is not still trying to beat their yellow light. Teach your child to always look both ways before crossing any streets.
Staying safe when your children return to school is an important aspect of education. What other tips do you have to encourage back-to-school safety?
Written by Tom Patire
Tom Patire is America's Leading Personal Safety Expert®. A top selling author and keynote speaker, Tom is dedicated to educating people about personal safety. Learn more