Even though summer is still in full swing here in the Ohio Valley, school will be back in session in just a few shorts weeks and children will be heading back to class.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 9.29.25 PMMaybe you’ve already knocked out the back to school shopping and are gently encouraging your offspring to please, please, please (finally!) wrap up that summer reading project, but have you given thought to back to school safety and security? Here are a few tips to get you started:

Keep an eye on kids’ social media accounts. A new year may mean new friendships, and it may also mean the demise of old friendships. Be on the lookout for bullying or other unhealthy behaviors, and know your schools’ policy on social media use. Your school counselor might be a good resource.

If your children walk or bike to school, review the rules of the road with them. Helmets should be required for biking. And that Squirtle is just going to have to get away — discourage the use of earbuds or playing games on handheld devices while walking to minimize distractions.

Get to know your schools’ emergency procedures, and review them with your child. Be aware of schools’ security policies, and be sure to follow them.

Volunteer. The presence of responsible, caring adults can go a long way towards decreasing bullying incidents, and increasing children’s sense of security.

Keep the lines of communication open. Make sure all of your contact information is complete and up to date, and talk with counselors about any changes your child is navigating or any concerns you have.

Finally, keep the lines of communication open with your child. Ask open ended questions, listen and observe.