Back to School Safety by Alina Lopez
And just like that, summer is over and it’s time to head back to school for our students. This is an important time for families to discuss safety with their children. Although there are many back to school tips we could review, I will be highlighting just a few, due to time and space constraints.
First and foremost, I want to mention about our Youth Crime Watch program that is available for the schools to tap in to. Aside from the YCW clubs that can be spearheaded at your school, we also provide safety presentations on numerous youth crime prevention topics.
Speaking of crime prevention and safety, the following are some tips to freshen up on for this coming school year
- If your child walks or bikes to school, make sure they follow all pedestrian safety guidelines. Don’t walk in the middle of the street and use bicycle designated lanes when possible. Try to set up and use the “Buddy System” in which students can commute to and from school in groups instead of going solo.
- For older students who may be of driving age, remind them to buckle up, observe all traffic laws, and avoid distracted driving.
- Talk about strangers with your children. Express that strangers are people we don’t know and not all strangers are bad, but since we don’t know who they are, we don’t know their intentions. Most importantly, focus on the fact that if anyone touches them inappropriately or makes them feel uncomfortable, whether we know them or not, they should tell a trusted adult about it.
- Make sure your children know their full name, your full name, phone number, and address. Emphasize that this information is for their knowledge only and for emergency situations. In the case of older students, this personal information should not be posted on social media platforms.
- Go over when to call 911 and how it should be used for emergencies only, such as dangerous or medical situations.
- Educate children on the importance of reporting suspicious activity in and around school. Teach the difference between reporting an incident that could cause harm or be of criminal activity versus snitching.
- Focus on bullying prevention. Bullying is a huge problem for youth in schools. Many, if not most, schools have some sort of bullying prevention curriculum. Students have the right to a safe learning environment free of violence and harassment.
- Practice cyber safety. Not everything has to be posted or documented on social media. Be wary of what information and pictures you and your children post online.
- Discuss home alone safety tips. A good percentage of children stay home alone at some point during the day. Don’t let them open the door to people they don’t know and never announce they are home alone. It is best to make noise and make it known that someone is home and perhaps announce that “Mom or Dad can’t get to the door right now.” Burglars check to see if anyone is home and we don’t want our children to have any surprises when they find someone trying to break into the house thinking no one was inside.
- Lastly, remind children that police officers are our friends! Children (and teens) should not fear law enforcement officers. Police officers are part of that group of trusted adults who they can turn to if they need help or there is a dangerous situation.
These safety tips are just skimming the surface when it comes to youth safety. We can focus on each one individually in future blogs.
For more information on our Youth Crime Watch program and the services we offer, or for more detailed information on any of the aforementioned safety tips, please contact our office at 305-470-1670 or visit our website www.citizenscrimewatch.org.
Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and stay safe.
Written by: Alina Lopez