It’s back-to-school time, and whether you’re devastated or excited to see summer come to a close, you want to make sure your kiddo gets back to school safely. Read on for some BTS safety tips for kids of all ages.
Be sure young children know basic safety procedures before school starts. Of course, teach them to look both ways when crossing the street, always cross at designated crosswalks and pay attention to crossing signs and guards as well as traffic. If your student rides a bus to school, walk to the bus stop with him or her for the first few days to help ensure they know where to wait and remind them to stand in place until the bus is at a complete stop and the doors have opened.
Additionally, mark all of your student’s belongings with their name. Backpacks, lunch bags, and school supplies have a tendency to go missing often in the first few weeks of school, so practice with them to make sure they put away their valuables in their designated places each day.
Though it’s a topic that no parent enjoys thinking about, back to school season is a prime time for kidnappers and other ne’erdowells to target kids. Youngsters who are just beginning school and are not familiar with the processes of getting on and off a bus, walking home, or staying within a certain area during recess can be easily confused and manipulated by predators. Teach your child to stay away from strangers and give them a secret code word that they should ask adults who claim to be authorized to pick them up. Instruct them that if someone does not know this secret password, they should run inside and inform an adult as quickly as possible.
Middle school is a scary time for kids; they now have lockers and change classes and can be easily intimidated and overwhelmed by how different the experience is from elementary school. Teach them basic locker safety: they shouldn’t share their combination with anyone or “set” their lockers before each class (some students will set their locks to the correct combination so they can easily leave class and open it immediately to save time before the next class). If your middle schooler carries a cell phone or tablet to school, consider providing them a small lockbox to place inside their locker with a separate combination to keep these items safe from determined thieves.
Students at this age may ride their bikes to school, as well. Provide them a secure bike lock and map out 3-4 acceptable routes for them to take to school each day and places to lock their bike. Switching up their routes can thwart potential kidnappers who may be monitoring their routines with nefarious intent. If possible, ride these routes with them at least once prior to the start of the school year.
If your high schooler takes a laptop to school for studying or note-taking, invest in a laptop lock to keep their information secure even if the laptop is stolen. Remind them to keep the computer with them at all times or provide a lockbox to keep inside their locker.
If they are involved in after-school activities, remind them to travel in groups and keep their cell phones charged in case they need to contact you or emergency services. Students who drive to school should be reminded of basic traffic safety and encouraged to set a good example for their peers by demonstrating responsible driving habits.
Students of any age should know how to contact 911 or other emergency services if needed, and should know to travel in groups to minimize the chances of getting lost, hurt, or abducted. Start the school year safely and have a great back-to-school season!