During school, many young children will find themselves in a position where they are responsible for their own safety and security. For many, this will be the first time in their lives, an adult will not be watching over them as they walk to and from school. Most children will adapt well to their newly acquired independence and will not have any problems. Others, however, will not be so fortunate.
Many children are injured each year as a result of accidents while traveling to and from school. Some children are also harassed by adults or older teenagers, and a very small number are actually abducted and/or physically harmed.
How Parents Can Help
As a parent, it is your responsibility to provide your children with enough knowledge to get them to and from school safely. Please take the time to discuss safety issues with your children. Talk about these issues now instead of waiting until after something happens. Here are some suggested topics for discussion:
- Encourage your children to travel with other trustworthy children. Make a point to get to know who your children are with. Write down their names, addresses and phone numbers, and familiarize yourself with their parents whenever possible. If you allow your children to visit a friend's home, meet the family first to make sure you are comfortable with the supervision and the environment.
- Make sure your children know what to do if they are confronted by a stranger. Children should keep their distance from strangers and not allow strangers to get close enough to grab them. Generally speaking, children should be taught to say no to a stranger's request or advance. Children should quickly get away from the stranger, and should tell a responsible adult what happened.
- Take an interest in your children's daily travels and activities. Map out safe, well-traveled routes for your children to follow. Don't allow children to take short cuts or make unnecessary stops along the way.
- Teach children how to anticipate and avoid potential hazards and dangers. Prevention is always the first and most important element of personal safety and self defense. This is especially true for children because most children are too small to physically overpower an adult or older teenager.
- Teach your children to obey all traffic safety rules and regulations. Make sure you set a good example for them.
- Teach children the difference between good touching and bad touching, and encourage them not to be afraid to talk about these issues. Make sure they know that bad touching can be committed by someone who may not be a stranger.
- Teach your children the tricks that strangers may use to get them into cars or follow them to other areas. These tricks may include offers of candy or money, asking for help in finding a lost pet, asking for directions and then pulling them into a car, or saying they were sent by a parent to pick them up. Parents and children should agree on a secret password in case parents have to send someone else to pick them up.
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