Before you know it, school will be back in session, which means kids all over the country will be walking to school and facing all sorts of new challenges. School should be about the education, not about learning how to be safe. However it’s a sad fact that safety is still a priority concern of many parents around the country. From walking to school and heading home alone to facing bullies and riding the bus, there are lots of different safety concerns facing children today. It’s very important to take the time to talk about these concerns with your children, before anything becomes an issue. There are plenty of great resources available to parents at schools and online, or visit your local bookstore for additional information. As you face these new challenges, here are a few tips to get you started.
Walking To And From School
Always have your kids walk to and from school with a buddy. There is safety in numbers. However, if that is not possible, or if your child will still end up with a few blocks to walk on their own, make sure to go over some important tips with your child. If anyone follows them, tell them turn and go in the other direction. Go back to school, find a teacher and tell them what happened. If someone approaches them, tell them to get away and don’t be afraid to yell or make a scene. Get away while yelling something like, “This person is not my parent!” Creating a scene like that is likely to cause too much attention for any would-be abductor.
Try The Password System
It’s crucial that your children are taught never to take a ride from a stranger, no matter what they say or how harmless he or she appears to be. One system that has worked well for years is the password system. Arrange a secret password between you and your kids, something that they can never tell anyone else. Then, if you should get held up at work, or if you ask a friend to pick up your kid, you must tell that person the password. When your friend arrives to pick up your child, if he or she doesn’t have the password ready, then you simply instruct your child not to enter the car.
Don’t Put Your Name On Your Backpack
Many children like to wear clothing or carry bags or backpacks with their names on them, however this can be a very easy way for a stranger to appear more familiar to a child, since it’s so easy for strangers to learn your child’s name. Keep anything with names at home, and never wear them to school. It’s a small, but easy way to help prevent any confusion in the future.
Waiting At The Bus Stop
Waiting for the bus is another spot where strangers can easily approach your kids. Just as when walking to or from school, it’s important to educate your children to never talk to strangers and to always stay with the group. If someone should approach the bus stop, instruct kids to get away from that person and make sure your child knows to tell a teacher or trusted adult right away. Even if someone just asks for directions, it’s important to never talk to them. An adult should be asking another adult for directions, and should never approach a child.
Sadly, there are a lot of bullies in school, and it’s something that just about every child faces at one time or another. There are some wonderful resources to start your education about bullying prevention, and it’s worth your time to look into them. Check out SafeChild.org, which has a lot of videos and articles from Dr. Sherryll Kraizer about how to use role-play techniques to teach your child how to deal with bullies. From preventing bullying to learning how to be inclusive, there are lots of great lessons here that can help make a big difference should your child be faced with a bully.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.