Back to School Safety for Kids
Here at Houston’s Voice For The Missing, we wants all children to be safe for the upcoming school year. However, Child Safety starts with the Parents/Guardians. We all must teach our children to be safe and to follow our lead in personal safety. Take the time to talk with your children about personal safety. Do not assume your child knows what to do. Read each Safety Tip to them. Review each safety tip and get feedback so you know their listening. Create “what if” scenarios for your child to make sure he/she understands safety messages and how to use them in a real situation.
Young pedestrians face a wide variety of decisions while walking to and from school. If your child walks to/from school, please review the following safety tips and discuss them with your child.
• Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest
street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards.
• Walk the route with your child beforehand. Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.
• Teach your child to cross at designated crosswalks at intersections.
• Mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard — never cross the street against a light, even if you don’t see any traffic coming.
• Wear reflective material…it makes you more visible to street traffic.
• Be sure your child walks to and from school with a sibling, friend, or neighbor.
• Be sure to go to your states sex offenders website to make sure there is not a sexual predator living on the same path your child takes to school.
• Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust.
• Teach your child that if a stranger tries to take them, they should quickly get away and yell, “This person is trying to take me away,” "help me," or “This person is not my father/mother/guardian.”
• Teach your child that if a stranger tries to grab them, they must make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, punching, screaming, and resisting in every way possible. It’s best to include scenario’s and give examples while talking to your child, tell them even if a predator claims they have a gun/weapon and will shoot them if they cause a scene, tell your child they still need to cause a scene. Chances are it will scare the perpetrator away…..
• Children should be taught to never leave school with anyone they do not know. They must always CHECK FIRST with you or another trusted adult. If anyone tells them there is an emergency and they want your child to go with them, your child must always CHECK FIRST with you or another trusted adult before doing anything. Although, I am always at my childrens bus stop, I know unexpected life events can happen so we still talk about what to do if I’m not there to get them. For example; I have told my children that no matter what, they are NEVER to get into a car with anyone besides their dad, grandma or myself unless they ask permission from me or their father directly.
• Make sure to teach your child to tell their teacher or another trusted adult if they notice a stranger hanging around the school or their path home from school.
The Internet is a valuable educational medium that can offer students a wealth of information
and educational resources. Parents/Guardians should view the Internet in this capacity, but also be very aware of the danger of child predators who use the Internet to expose children to inappropriate subject matter. Please review the following safety tips with your children and share with them the benefits, as well as the dangers of the Internet.
• Place the computer in an area that is accessible by the whole family.
• Subscribe to an online service that offers parental control features.
• Purchase blocking software that utilizes passwords and parental controls.
• Spend time with your child exploring the Internet.
• Tell your child that he/she can confide in you without the fear of being punished.
• Talk openly with your child about your suspicions and about online dangers.
• Review all content on your child’s computer including email, browser history, etc.
• Use caller ID services to monitor who is calling.
• Monitor your child’s access to the Internet including email, chat rooms, instant messengers, etc.
INSTRUCT YOUR CHILD TO:
• NEVER speak to strangers online. The same stranger danger rules used on the street should also be applied while surfing the web. A child/teen should not be communicating online with anyone other than their friends from school, church and family.
• Always let you know immediately if they find or someone sends them something scary or threatening on the Internet.
• Never give out their name, address, telephone number, password, school name, parent’s
name, or any other personal information.
• Never meet face to face with someone they met online.
• Never respond to messages that have bad words or seem scary or weird.
• Never enter an area that charges for services without asking first.
• Never send your picture to anyone without your permission.
• If your child uses social media, always make sure their profiles are set to private.
• Keep doors and windows locked at all times. Teach your child how to lock and unlock all doors and windows.
• Acknowledge all callers through a locked door.
• Never let anyone know you are alone.
• Answer all telephone calls and remember to not tell anyone you are home alone. Instruct your children to tell the caller their parent is busy and will call back later….
• Post important telephone numbers near all phones in case of emergencies:
o 9-1-1 for Police, Fire, Ambulance, And Poison Control.
o Parent’s/guardian’s work and cellular phone numbers.
o in case of an emergency and your children cannot get in touch with you. You should also have Neighbor’s or family members phone numbers listed too.
• If a latch key child:
o Check with parent/guardian or neighbor upon arrival at home.
o Explain to the child the consequences of not making the call.
• Never display the house key around the home (keep the key concealed).
• No visitors are allowed while the parents/guardians are not at home. Explain to the child the consequences of them breaking this rule.
• Never enter the house when you find the door ajar or a window open.
• If your child is being followed by a stranger, on foot or by car, teach your child that they should run to the nearest public place, business, or safe house(like neighbor).
You and your children should agree on rules about what they will do when they are alone. Having rules or keeping them busy with help ensure there safety.
Some of these rules may involve:
1. How long they may talk on the phone.
2. How much TV they may watch and which shows.
3. Whether they should call you when they get home or if they decide to leave the house.
4. What chores they should do before play time.
5. Setting aside a time for homework.
6. What snacks they may have.
7. Kitchen rules, including whether they may use the stove, other appliances, or sharp objects.
In addition to the information listed above parents/Guardians should Know which adults have access to and contact with your child and make sure they have been properly screened. Also, it is very important to get to know your child’s friends and their parents/guardians, as well as where they live.
Determine the policy concerning notification in case of an emergency. What is the
school’s policy for notification if a child is absent and the parent/guardian doesn’t advise
Take time today to update your child’s ID photo. A recent photo is one of the most important tools needed by law enforcement if a child goes missing. Download a kit safety kit on our website
If your child walks to school, walk the route with him/her to identify landmarks and safe places to go if he/she is being followed or needs help. Create a map with your child
showing acceptable routes to and from school using main roads and avoiding shortcuts and isolated areas.
If your child rides the bus, visit the bus stop with him/her and learn the bus number. This will help eliminate confusion for your child regarding which bus to ride.
Make sure young children are properly supervised going to and from school, whether it is by you as a parent/guardian, an older sibling or another trusted adult. Remind older children to always take a friend when walking or riding their bikes to and from school.
Also, caution your child about carrying or wearing items that visibly display his/her name.
Those items should be left at home.
Article by Amber Cammack