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With the Jessica Ridgeway story in the news right now, we thought it would be a good time for us to post a bit of advice on keeping yourself or your kids safe at school, and on the way to and from school. Most of this will be advice you’ve heard – especially parents and teens – but now is a good time to review it with your kids. While a lot of this is most relevant for younger kids, it generally applies to teens as well.

 

Parents: What You Need to Know

  • If your kids walk to school or a bus stop alone, map out and walk a safe path with them, especially younger kids
  • Make sure the path to school avoids or minimizes danger zones like abandoned lots or  empty construction sites, or sparsely populated parks
  • There’s safety in numbers – see if there are other kids in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk
  • For teens of driving age, set up a carpool with trusted friends
  • Stress traffic safety
  • Make sure you’re available during the times your kids are in transit
  • Is it time to get them their own cell phone?
  • If your kids stay at home by themselves after school, talk to them about what to do if they see something weird in the neighborhood, make sure they have emergency numbers, etc..
  • Make sure to discuss home safety, like how and whether your kids are allowed to use kitchen gadgets or to light the stove, etc..
Remember to watch your tone during this important conversation, especially if you’re talking to middle or high schoolers. You don’t want to give the impression you don’t trust your kids, or that you’re overprotective or paranoid. Try starting the conversation with an acknowledgement of their intelligence and common sense, like “I know you know these things already.”

 

For specific in-school safety issues, take a look at our earlier post on what to do if your child is being bullied. In addition to safety concerns, a hostile school environment makes it harder for kids to learn effectively. This applies equally to younger kids and teens.

 

You can’t be with your kids all the time, but good communication, good behavioral modeling and teaching good school survival skills will help them understand what to do if something doesn’t seem quite right, and again this applies to your teens as well as to your younger children.

For Kids:

This section applies to both teenagers and youngsters. It’s easy for you to assume that once you hit your middle teens, you’re invincible. But you’re not. It’s important to still be aware of what’s going on around you, both in school regarding bullying, etc., and on the way to and from school, on the bus or however you get there.

 

The good news is that these tips are pretty much common sense, and you’re probably heard them many, many times.  

  • Carpool or walk to school with a friend(s) or a group
  • Don’t talk to strangers or get into cars with anyone your parents don’t know – yes teens, even you!
  • Make sure you know your folks’ phone numbers and emergency contact numbers in case your parents are unavailable for some reason during the day
  • Staying home alone after school? Don’t open the door for anyone you don’t know
  • Check in with your parents when you get home

Remember, your parents aren’t trying to cramp your style here. They trust you; they know that you understand the importance of safety and caution. But they have a slightly different – and very valuable – perspective on the issues of school and after-school safety.

 

As always, communication is key to staying safe and healthy

Again, if you or your kids are in high school or the middle teen years, it may seem like these tips are outdated, or that you’ve heard it all before. But remember, most of these tips are very simple to implement, don’t really cost you any time or money, and are generally just good solid common sense.

 

And remember how striking it is that as with so many other teen and childhood issues, communication is the key to staying safe. So parents talk to your kids about school safety. Kids, don’t feel weird about talking to your parents. You can never tell when this open communication will pay off.

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