I personally believe the best part of summer ending and school starting is getting to go school supply shopping. There was nothing I relished more than choosing which designs I wanted on my mechanical pencils and if I wanted puppies or kittens on my folders. However, heading back to school (or heading to school for the first time) is about a lot more than just pencils and folders. Those last couple of weeks before school, serve as an opportunity to talk to children about safety. Whether it be on the way to school, at school or heading home, we want our children to be safe. Below are a few examples of measures we can take and conversations we can have to help keep our children safe!
- Walking to and from school: It is imperative that the route between home and school is safe. Staying on the sidewalk versus taking shortcuts is a way to stay visible to others. Children taking shortcuts (behind homes or through shrubbery) can be dangerous and leave them vulnerable if they were to be hurt. For children in elementary school, it may be beneficial for you to do a “trial” walk to school with your children. This way you are able to talk through important factors- i.e. crossing the street, etc. Talk to your child about what to do if someone approaches them in a car and asks them to get in. Always try to ensure that your child is never walking to school or home alone. A buddy is never a bad idea!
- School bus safety: Taking the bus can be a wonderful way to get to school. Before starting a bus route, it is important to talk to your child about staying seated on the bus and not distracting the driver. The bus, to children, can often times feel like a place where they are “unsupervised,” so talking to your child about how important it is to tell an adult about any bullying or uncomfortable interactions.
- Riding a bike to school: When riding a bike to school, talk to your children about staying on the right- hand side of the road and wearing a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85%. Similar to walking to school, conducting a “trial run” of the bike route your child takes to school is never a bad idea; this way you can ensure that your child is demonstrating traffic safety awareness.
- Uncomfortable interactions: One of the most important safety lessons that we can teach our children is what to do when someone makes them feel uncomfortable. Whether it be a touch they are not okay with or someone saying something that makes them feel “weird,” we want our children to tell us. Talking to our children about adults in their life they can talk to and teaching them to say no and get away are vital. One idea is to go through scenarios with children they may encounter at school. For example: What would you do if someone at school pushed you down? Should you and an adult be in a restroom alone together? What is something you could do if someone bullies you on the bus? Scenarios build confidence in children and can help prepare a child to know what to do if something were to happen.
Having conversations with your children and establishing rules and guidelines, help children know what to do and how to handle situations. It also helps to provide a little peace of mind knowing that we have prepared our children the best we can.
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About the Author
Carol Logan is a Community Educator with Alliance For Children who spends close to 90% of her time in schools located around Tarrant County talking to children about personal body safety, through a program called P.S. It’s My Body and Internet safety, through a program called Netsmartz. When Carol is not at work, she is playing with her dog Bodie and spending time with family.