By Jessica Merkel
When it is time for the kids to go back to school - whether they are in elementary school, middle school or high school - it is an excellent time to revisit safety rules and precautions.
If you or another person drives the kids to school, there are some essential road safety rules to remember as drivers. First, mind the school speed limits and crosswalks as you near the school campus. Roads will be particularly busy right before school begins and right after it ends, so stay alert and be on the lookout for the crossing guards, school buses, and other traffic signs.
If your kid is a high schooler with their own transportation to and from school, here are a few things to remind them. Teens tend to be speedy drivers, but this is more likely to happen when they are in a hurry. Make sure you encourage them to be timely or even a little bit early to school to avoid fast and distracted driving. Next, make sure their car is well-maintained and that they are adequately insured with auto insurance.
Many children ride buses as transportation to and from school. There are some basic guidelines for your kids to remember to remain safe while taking the school bus. First, if your child walks to and from the school bus, it is ideal to either walk them to the bus stop or have another trusted person do so. While the kids wait at the bus stop, it is recommended to stay a few feet away from the curb and to remain undistracted by other kids, phones, or even music. In a nutshell, children should be reminded to pay attention to their surroundings at all times.
Next, if the children have to cross the street to get on or off of the bus, remember that they should always look both ways for any cars and then pass after the bus driver has put out the stop sign. Also, they should always cross in front of the bus so the bus driver and surrounding cars can see them. Finally, when on the bus, it is most safe to sit facing forward and to remain seated until the bus has arrived at the school. A bus driver should enforce these general rules, and the kids should always listen to their bus driver, but it never hurts for them to hear it from mom or dad!
For kids who walk or bike to school, they should have a supervisor or another kid to accompany them on the way to school. Nonetheless, it is common for kids to walk or bike to school alone. If this is the case, remind your kids about any traffic and sidewalk rules. The most fundamental traffic rules for bikers is to mind the walkers and use a biking lane when possible. It is also crucial to wear a well-fitted helmet. Another safety measure is to keep any technology in a backpack that has its straps out of the way so that it does not get caught in the bike.
Another highly important reminder for kids who walk or bike to school is ‘stranger danger.’ Let them know that interacting with any person they do not know is a bad idea. Consider getting your child a phone or another device that you can track on their route to school. Also, it is good for the child to know some basic self-defense.
Aside from transportation safety, a common safety issue for kids is bullying, either online or in the classroom. There are ways for kids to be prepared for these unfortunate situations. For example, it is a good idea for them to know how to defend themselves against verbal or physical bullying that they may incur at school.
Teach children to say no, express that they don’t like being treated a certain way and that it is okay to walk away from a situation. Children should feel comfortable telling a teacher or trusted adult about any kind of bullying situation at school.
In terms of cyberbullying, talk to your kids about taking actions against the bully, such as blocking. Let your kids know that they are not dealing with it alone! As a parent, be sure to comfort them, support them and take any necessary actions to report a bully to school administrators.