Let’s Talk About Back to School Safety….

When you think about back to school time, most people immediately envision school supplies, school clothes, shoes, & of course, getting back on a routine! While all of that is certainly important, we can all agree that safety is of the utmost importance. So, how do you go about talking to your kid(s) regarding back to school safety in a somewhat fun, but serious way?

In this blog post, we have put together some safety focused tips and tricks to get your family back to school ready!

TRANSPORTATION

How will your student get to and from school? Whether they will be a car rider, bus rider, or a walker/bike rider, fully discussing the plan with them is vital. While this seems like common sense, it is easy to assume they know the drill, but do they know what to do if something doesn’t go as planned? For example, wonder if they are car rider and an emergency occurs, and their ride does not show up… what’s the plan? Or wonder if they are a walker/biker and it is storming? Maybe they are a bus rider, and they miss the bus. These are the situations where trouble arises, and it is essential to be prepared. So, how do you go about talking to your kid(s) about these possible scenarios? How about acting out a few unexpected situations in a family skit! This will allow your kid(s) to demonstrate their response, while also keeping things interesting to avoid losing their attention or creating anxiety with a stern conversation.

BULLYING

We all have experienced bullying at some point in our lives. It is going to happen to us all, but when does bullying become a major concern? The simple answer is always. Whether the bully is antagonizing a peer verbally or physically, it is always entirely unacceptable. As adults, it is our responsibility to teach kids what is unacceptable and what is not, and the goal is to do this before they are actually in the midst of the situation. This is why it is important to talk to your student about bullying before school even begins, and regularly throughout the year. What does this look like? Well, consider providing your kid(s) with a few instances of what bullying looks like – physically, verbally, and via social media/digital media. Next, discuss action plans on what to do if they are involved in bullying or recognize someone else is being bullied. It is very important to convey to kid(s) that bullies are typically hurting and upset and often seeking attention through their actions or words, so it is equally important to bring bullying situations to a teacher or adult for the best interest of everyone involved. This will help kid(s) to realize they are not a snitch, tattle teller, etc. for bringing the situation to an adult. Again, a great way to handle the discussion of bullying is through skits or by providing scenarios and asking them to describe what they would do in that situation.

STRANGER DANGER

“Stranger danger” has never been more serious as it is in today’s world. Human/child trafficking is real, and unfortunately, is in all of our backyards, yes, even in your gated community.

Child trafficking victims, whether for labor, sex, or organ trafficking, come from all backgrounds and include both boys and girls. They span a wide age range from 1 to 18 years old. Sex trafficking victims up to roughly 25 years old most often started as young as 14. Children are trafficked out of, or into the United States from all regions of the world and represent a variety of different races, ethnic groups, and religions. (Ark of Hope, 2017)

Take a look at some alarming statistics…

  • 1.5 Million victims in the United States (Ark of Hope, 2017)
  • A $32 billion-a-year industry, human trafficking is on the rise and is in all 50 states (Ark of Hope, 2017)
  • Up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year (Ark of Hope, 2017)
  • Average victims age is 11 to 14 (Ark of Hope, 2017)

Understanding these statistics, it is clear that there is nothing over the top when it comes to protecting our children. Whether we want to face the facts or not, it is just not safe for children to be unsupervised. Inevitably there will be times, especially for children walking or biking to school, when direct supervision is unavailable. This is why it is so imperative for kids to understand that no matter what, they should not engage in a conversation or activity with people they do not know. Likewise, it is also important for there to be an understanding of what safe relationships are with people that we do know.

Here are a few tips to share with your kid(s):

  1. Never be alone. Stick with groups of kids, or at least adhere to a good old fashioned buddy system.
  2. Trust your gut feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, call a parent or family member ASAP.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. This is a very important tip to teach your kids!
  4. Meeting, talking to, or engaging in activity with someone new should always be under the supervision of a parent or a trusted adult.
  5. Never be fearful to share uncomfortable or awkward thoughts, situations, or experiences with a parent or trusted adult.

WISHING YOU A SAFE SCHOOL YEAR

In conclusion, these topics are never really fun to discuss, but the fact of the matter is… a lot of safety concerns and issues can be prevented with awareness, education, and a plan in the event a situation ever arises. By setting aside the time to talk with your children about safety, being aware of their surroundings, and how to react in the event of an emergency they will be better prepared for whatever may come their way – fostering a better chance of having a safe school year!


Reference: What are the statistics on human trafficking of children? (17, July 31). Retrieved August 10, 2018, from https://arkofhopeforchildren.org/child-trafficking/child-trafficking-statistics