Back to School Safety Tips from the RevvedUpMom
Students will be heading back to school soon. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate new schedules, new activities, and new caregivers:
- Practice bus stop safety: Unfortunately, bus stops are an excellent place for predators. They know exactly when children are waiting for the bus in the morning, and getting off the bus in the afternoon. Keep your child safer at the bus stop by following two easy rules. First, your child should never wait at the bus stop alone. If your child is the only one at her stop, switch to a different stop with more children, or have a trusted adult there for pick up and drop off. Second, you should make a plan for a missed bus. Especially if you leave for work when your child leaves for the bus, your child needs to know exactly what to do and where to go in case of a missed bus, or a bus that doesn't arrive for pick up.
- Ask your school and your after-care program to provide information about their child safety practices. Just as we recommended for summer camps and vacation/resort activities, you should find out how your school and your after-care program address child safety. A recent incident involving a Day Care supervisor in Gwinnett County is a perfect example of why this is so important.
- Talk with your child about personal boundaries. Let your child know that it's not okay to touch, hug or kiss another child unless that child gives permission; likewise, your child should not tolerate unwanted physical contact from another student or from a teacher or staff member. Role play with your child so he is prepared to respond to the situation if it arises. Remind your child that you want to know if anyone is making him uncomfortable at school for any reason. This is also a good time to reinforce that privates are private and no one is allowed to see or touch his privates.
- Arm your child to respond to bullying. Approximately 800,000 children in the U.S. avoid going to school every day because they fear being bullied. Bullying is verbal, physical or emotional abuse that is repeated over time toward a victim by one or more perpetrators. Bullying is not a one-time incident. Help your child understand bullying, and role play so that your child can respond effectively to a bully, whether the bullying is directed toward your child or toward another student. Bystanders play a key role in stopping bullying. Learn more about responding to bullying by visiting Stop Bullying.gov.
- Chaperone extracurricular activities. If your child is joining a club, troop or team, be sure to vet all of the activity leaders carefully. It is also wise to be present, or to arrange for a trusted adult to be there to watch over your child. One way that predators identify potential victims is to look for children who are routinely dropped off at activities; they also target children who are regularly picked up late by caregivers, or who seem starved for adult approval and attention.
- Be guarded about play dates. Your child will undoubtedly make new friends at school, and may want to spend time with those friends outside of school. Unfortunately, a high percentage of sexual abuse occurs at the hands of family friends. Before you drop your child off for a play date with a new friend, it's advisable to get to know the adults and older children in the home. A great way to do this is to schedule a parent-child outing at a local park or play place, or, you host a play date in your home and invite the parents. This will give you a chance to learn about the new friend's family and determine whether or not you are comfortable allowing your child to play at the family's house.
Enjoy your new school year! Be Smart, Be Strong and Be Safe!