It's that time of year again when parents get excited and kids, well maybe not so excited, but they can look forward to new shoes and back-to-school clothes. Perhaps they may even manage to get a new computer or software program to make studying easier.
When children start school in September they are overstimulated with meeting new students, making new friends and reuniting with old ones. They will have to re-acclimate to their school surroundings, learn the names of new teachers and their seating preferences. Besides meeting all of their teachers, children are given a plethora of information to remember and lists of items to purchase for each class. It is easy to be overwhelmed, Therefore, it is vital to make your children aware of school safety practices.
It is a different world from the one student's parents grew up in. While their parents use to walk to school, ride bikes or hang out at a bus stop waiting for a ride, they have the benefit of a bus stop at almost every front door. But children must be aware of the possible dangers that exist going to, being in and coming home from school.
That isn't to say kids should walk around in fear, but they should be vigilant in paying attention to their surroundings. Students are more likely to thrive academically – as well as socially and emotionally – in schools they experience as safe and supportive. Here are some issues parents can teach their children to insure their safety:
- Make sure your child knows the school safety management protocol; where the exits are located, what to do in case of a possible emergency, who to go to for instructions and guidance, and how to get in touch with you.
- Nowadays all children have cell phones. Your child should keep personal information out of texts such as address, where he/she is going and his/her routine activities. If the phone is ever lost, anyone will have information to every detail of his/her daily routines.
- Your child should know not to give their cell phone number to just anybody, because they look like a figure of authority. Anyone with authority will already have access to that information through school records.
- Talk with your children regularly about gangs, drugs, weapons, school and community safety. Don't wait until you suspect your child may be involved in a gang or experimenting with drugs. Talk to them early!
- Be aware of signs that indicate your child may be a victim of bullying. Your child may not come to you so keep communicating.
- Educate yourself on the current lingo kids use. This will offer you many insightful advantages.
- Eliminate access to any weapons you may have in your household.
- Provide order, structure, and consistent discipline in the home. Children need to know they are accountable for their actions.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! There is always time to start a conservation while driving your child to an activity, while they are preparing for homework, at the dinner table. Ask probing questions: Where are you going? Who will be with you? And do some follow-up to verify the answers you get! A quick question can get you vital information that may head-off a potential problem.
Some issues that should be addressed with the school itself are:
- The communication systems within the school district and with community responders. How and where parents will be informed in the event of an emergency.
- What is the level of security provided such as monitoring of school guests, visitors need to sign in and wear identification, side and back doors that are not in use are locked.
- Staff availability and security in hallways, cafeterias, playgrounds.
- Training of all staff in bully-proofing, social skill development, conflict mediation, disaster training, and responsiveness to any threats.
- The presence of security systems (metal detectors, video monitoring, exit door alarm systems).
- Availability of after-school or off-school premises, school-community programs such as Block Parents, police surveillance, and Community Watch programs.
There is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen so it is important to be prepared and have your children prepared for the possibility of something happening. It could prevent a tragedy. Dawn
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