As summer winds down and the Great Minnesota Get Together (State Fair) is going on our thoughts are consumed with any food item deep fried and on a stick. Afterwards we will be focusing on back to school. Once we have completed shopping we should start to focus making sure we have taken necessary steps to ensure our children’s safety. Below are a few tips that are simple and easy to follow, and might go a long way to provide peace of mind.
- Map out a safe way to walk to school or to the bus stop. Avoid crossing busy roads and intersections, if possible. Do a trial run with your kids so that you can discuss areas to avoid along the way, such as vacant lots, construction areas and parks where there aren’t many people. Encourage kids to walk to school or the bus stop with a sibling or friend, and wait at bus stops with other children.
- Snap a photo of your child and enter up-to-date descriptions into your mobile device. If your child goes missing, you may quickly access the information on your smartphone and send it quickly to law enforcement when every moment counts.
- Ask about the safety and emergency plans for your children’s school. How is local law enforcement involved? How are students and parents involved? What emergencies have been considered and planned for?
- Create a group communication method with your school administrator to share emergency information with staff, parents and others via email.
- Talk to your children about their day. Ask your children if they see anyone bullied, if they are bullied, or if anything else makes them feel uncomfortable. Look for warning signs of bullying, such as a sudden drop in grades, loss of friends, torn clothing or a decrease in normal social media activity.
- If you see something that is suspicious in your neighborhood, report it to local law enforcement and post information and updates to your neighbors on Next-door.com (or the phone app w/green house icon) to help reduce crime.
- Teach children to resolve problems without fighting. Talk to them about other ways they can work out a problem, such as talking it out, walking away, sticking with friends or telling a trusted adult.
- Keep an eye on your children’s Internet use. Talk to your children about what they do online – what sites they visit, social media apps and who they chat with. Encourage them to speak up if something makes them uncomfortable, or if they witness forms of cyberbullying, such as threats or harassment.
Back to school is an important time for families to discuss safety with children, review safety tips and be aware of threats to children at home and school. The more informed we are as parents, the safer our children and the community will be.