Children around the world are headed back to school this month, and we have teamed up with Family Safety Resource to share some important Back to School Safety Tips that can help every family as they prepare for the new school year. These would be great for parents and kids to sit down and discuss together, so that children have a safety plan if faced with tough situations.
Knowledge gives children power. Knowing what to watch for and how to protect themselves from danger is critical as your child leaves the safety of the home for the bus, the streets, the playground, and after school activities.
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For more resources to keep your child safe, whether it’s back to school or all year long, check out Family Safety Resource’s Child Safe Kit. It’s a free tool kit with all the information you need including a smartphone contract, digital safety guide, and a DNA kit to better understand your child’s medical profile. Every family should have a Child Safe Kit on hand!
In the meantime, here are a few go-to tips to prepare for the new school year:
Back to School Safety Tips
Don’t Talk to Strangers
We preach to our children about this often, but do they know who “strangers” are? Be clear about who they can talk to and who they can’t. For example, it is okay to talk to teachers, recess personnel, and administrators at school. In fact, it is important to be able to talk to these people when kids need their help.
If a child gets lost, what stranger should they talk to? Encourage them to find a uniformed store employee or a mom with children, and ask them for help finding their parent.
On the other hand, if an adult they don’t know approaches them and asks for their help or wants your child to come with them, they should run away and tell an adult they know. Don’t assume that because someone looks safe, they are.
Bus Stop Safety
It is more likely for a child to be hurt on their way to or from school than at school. Bus stops are the first place children meet up with their friends in the morning. They have time to kill while waiting for the bus and are often un-supervised by an adult for that time.
Make sure your children know NOT to play in the street at the bus stop. The only time they should be in the street is when the bus has stopped, the lights are flashing, and the stop sign is up.
Helmets may not seem cool, but they are when they save your life! Make sure your kids have one available to them, and remind them to wear it EVERY time they ride.
Before you cross a street, STOP! Check both ways, and then ride on when it’s safe. It’s scary how often kids on a bike are already crossing (in a road) before they turn their head to look both ways. Give them a marker, a point on the road or sidewalk where they need to stop and check before crossing. Even if it’s a stop sign, or the light allows them to go–they need to look both ways first.
If you are in a carpool, there are a few things you should think about and consider before sending your children into other cars. Do those drivers require kids to wear seat belts? If your child is still required to be in a booster seat, does that driver have one in their car? Are there enough seats in their car for each child to have their own seat belt?
You would be amazed at how often these rules are broken. The excuse may be that the school is just a few blocks away, and yet, those few blocks may be some of the busiest right before and after school. Buy an extra $13 booster seat for the other adult to use in their car. Remind all parents in the carpool that seat belts are a MUST for each child.
I distinctly remember the terrifying call I got last year from my daughter, when the car she was riding home in had been in an accident just out of the school parking lot. She was in the process of fastening her seatbelt, but the busy driver had started pulling out before everyone had buckled. As a result, several of the children didn’t have their seatbelts on when they were hit by another car. Everyone was okay in this instance, but it was a great reminder to not start moving until everyone is safely buckled up.
Memorize your Address and Phone Number
Children should learn their phone number (or your mobile number if there’s no landline) and address as early as possible. You want them to be able to call you anytime, from anywhere, on any phone that is available. Knowing their address can be helpful if they become lost or need help getting home, and you’re not available.
The buddy system helps children out in so many situations. It immediately makes them much less likely to be a target of a child predator, because it is more difficult to deal with 2 children than one. If your child is walking or riding a bike to and from school, make sure they have a buddy to go with.
The buddy system can also help prevent your child from being bullied. Bullies tend to target a lone person much more often than a group. A group is more difficult to intimidate, and bullies aren’t brave. They prey on those they see as weak. Give your child the extra strength and protection that comes from traveling in numbers.
Unfortunately, there are too many children in the world that feel the need to intimidate and torment their fellow students in order to find their own value. If your child becomes a target of one of these people, they need an action plan. Here are some ideas that can help you build your plan:
Hold Your Ground: Don’t back down and give in to their demands. A bully is looking for weakness. Don’t push them, but be brave. When it is safe, walk away, and tell a teacher.
Tell an Adult: It is good to tell (tattle) if someone is being hurt or a bully is regularly and intentionally trying to make them feel bad. It is safe to tell a parent, bus driver, or other nearby adult. Keep telling if the bullying keeps happening. The school keeps records that can be important if further action is needed.
Don’t React: Try not to give a bully the reaction they want. If their goal is to embarrass and humiliate you, acting as if what they are saying is not worth your attention interrupts their power high. Don’t antagonize them, but act as if what they say is irrelevant or does not affect you. This may be enough to encourage them to move on to an easier target.
Know Your Worth: You are AMAZING! Remember how awesome you are, at all times, every day, any place! You are the only person like you in the world. You’ll have your own struggles and challenges, but you also bring something to planet earth that NO ONE else can. That makes you POWERFUL! Never forget! You are powerful and you are loved. They can’t take that from you.
Computer Safety Tips for Kids
Never Give out your Password
Children should never share passwords with anyone other than their parents. Occasionally a teacher may assign you one for a school program, but no one else needs to know. Kids might be tempted to share with friends or people they meet online, but parents need to be vocal about the importance of password protection.
Don’t Click on Pop Ups or Download Unless a Parent or Teacher Gives Permission
Talk to your children about pop ups, and show them examples of what ads look like on a sidebar. Discuss the word DOWNLOAD with them, and what that means. When you click on one of these, you are at risk of downloading viruses or going to sites you do not want to visit. Make sure you have an active pop up blocker on computers that children are using, and help them know where it’s safe to click.
Don’t Accept Friend Requests or Talk to People You Don’t Know Online
Just because a profile picture says someone is a kid your child’s age doesn’t mean they are. They could easily be an adult and a child predator. Help your child understand it is best not to accept friend requests and chat with people they have not met in person.
Never Give out Personal Information
Your child should not give their phone number and address out to people online that you haven’t met in person.
Even if you set all the necessary parental controls, kids can still stumble upon something they shouldn’t be seeing on the internet. Tell them that if a webpage or picture comes up that make you uncomfortable, try to close the window. If that doesn’t work, turn off the computer and immediately tell a teacher or parent.
If your child has their own email account, it’s important to make them aware of phishing and scam emails. Teach them not to respond to emails from people they don’t recognize. These emails or respond-and-tag-your-friends type chain posts on social media are often used to extract personal information that can be used for identity theft. Ignore or delete them.
*For More Fantastic Digital Safety Tips, head over to FamilySafetyResource.org.
Body Safety Rules for Kids
Parents should have honest conversations about personal boundaries with their child, especially when it relates to the body. Depending on their age, their body probably has changed a bit over the summer–whether they are growing, going through puberty, or experiencing differences in mental health. Here are the most important points for parents to hit on:
Your Body is Your Own
You don’t have to touch or Be touched unless you want to. Say, “Please don’t touch me.” or, “No thank you. I don’t want a hug/tickling right now.” If someone is invading your personal space or giving you unwanted affection or attention, talk to a teacher or a parent.
Your Body is Awesome
Your body is fantastic, and can do so many amazing things! It’s your job to take good care of it. Treat it nice by feeding it, giving it enough sleep, and keeping it safe from sun and cold.
You Should Always Feel Safe
If there is ever a person that makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable, talk to a parent or teacher about it. Being anxious or uncomfortable may feel like butterflies in your tummy, sweaty hands, or a feeling like you want to get away and hide. You may not even know why, but it could be an early warning sign that something is wrong. Talk to someone you trust, and they can help.
Private parts are anything normally covered by a swimming suit. If anyone ever touches a private part of your body, Scream! “Shout NO!”, and run away. Don’t stay and try to fight them, unless you can’t get away. Scream and run. Your voice is what predators are the most afraid of, because they don’t want to be caught. Use it, loud and strong. Your voice is your most powerful weapon to stop them from hurting you and others.
And Finally… No Secrets
You never need to keep secrets from a parent, even if another adult or student tells you to. If a secret makes you feel yucky or anxious inside, tell your mom and dad or a teacher. Talk with your parents ahead of time about who you will tell. You can even have a secret code word if you are uncomfortable saying it out loud in front of other people.
We hope you’ve found these Back to School Safety Tips helpful. Of course we never want our children to be in any of these situations, but having the knowledge and a plan gives them power to avoid any future problems.