by Catalogs.com Info Guru Terri Wallace
In this digital age, it is harder than ever to protect your child, but you can help arm your child against harm with these skills to help keep your kids safe at school.
10. Don’t Broadcast Private Information
Sure, all those personalized backpacks, coats, and hoodies are super cute, but they also provide strangers with valuable private information: namely, your kid’s name! Instead, opt for initials or an embroidered design to make it more personal, while still keeping your child safe.
9. Stick to the Plan
Keep your child in the loop about the daily schedule, and any variations to it. Let them know who is “on call” to pick them up in case of an emergency, and remind them you would never send a strange to pick them up. Also, decide on a “Family Code Word.” In the event someone else is required to pick up your child, coach your child to request this code word before going with them—even if it’s a neighbor they recognize.
8. See and Be Seen
As school bus stop pick up times get earlier and earlier, and winter’s dawn comes later and later, it is important to make sure students are visible in the dusky morning hours. Simple clip on body lights can be attached to their waistband, jacket, or backpack to provide increased visibility to motorists.
7. Good vs. Bad
Take a minute to ask your child what a “bad guy” or “criminal” looks like. You might be surprised by their response. Kids often describe someone who is “creepy looking” or “wears a trench coat.” Unfortunately, cartoons often exacerbate this problem, and children’s ideas of evil take on a cartoonish tone. Show your children pictures from law enforcement websites or your local paper to show them “normal” looking criminals, in order to educate them to the fact that just because someone does “bad things” doesn’t always mean they look bad.
6. Know the School Rules
Educate yourself on your school’s position on things like: violence, weapons, drug use, sexual abuse, and unauthorized visitors. Inquire as to how these events are documented and the standard protocol for handling these issues. Find out whether your school has any security in place, and whether they utilize security guards, have their own campus police department, or rely on the local law enforcement. Understand the school’s screening process for employees, including teachers, janitors, lunchroom staff, volunteers, and bus drivers. If the policy manual doesn’t address these issues, inquire of the school administrators. Schools should have ready answers to these questions.
5. Know Your Child’s Friends
In this digital age, this might be easier said than done. However, it is imperative that parents make an effort to know their child’s friends. Often, kids spend more time with their friends than with their families, so it is understandable that friends soon develop a great influence over them. Although kids might alter their behavior while adults are around, the more time you spend with your child and their friends, the better chance you have of noticing behavior that might require discussion or intervention.
4. Ditch the “Stranger Danger” Lecture
Too often, parents teach their child a simple (and nearly useless) rule: Don’t Talk to Strangers. The problem is, this rule that is designed to keep them safe is the same rule that can prevent them from asking for help when they need it. In addition, the rule seems to imply that if you know someone, they won’t hurt you. Unfortunately, this is untrue. Instead, teach your child to be on the lookout for behavior that is strange. Teach your child to be observant of behavior that makes them uncomfortable or which seems out of the ordinary, and encourage them to speak up!
3. Saying No
Talk to your child about boundaries, both physical and emotional. Teach your child that it is okay to say, “No.” She can say no to a stranger, a friend, a boyfriend. Remind her that she can change her mind. Reassure her that it is not prude, rude, or uncool to know her boundaries and make sure that others respect them.
2. Be Involved
Too many parents cannot even recall their child’s teacher’s name. If you want to keep your child safe at school, be involved. Talk to your child’s teacher and counselor and have a rapport with them so they can alert you to any issues they see. Teachers often spend more hours per day with your child than you do…take advantage of what they see and hear.
Perhaps the best thing that a parent can do to keep their child safe is to communicate. Make sure your child knows he can tell you anything, and you won’t judge or condemn him—that you will work together to find a solution.