By: Victoria Zambito with Vector Solutions, parent company of SafeSchools
Going back to school can be an emotional time for both parents and children. It’s fun and exciting to start a new school year, yet it’s stressful and exhausting to be prepare for it. More than anything, it’s filled with a lot of anticipation of the unknowns. How will the teachers be? How will the other kids be? And most importantly, will my child be safe?
As parents, we put our child’s safety front and center. Life is filled with risks. We want to minimize these risks so we can protect our children, particularly when they are at school, where we are more than likely not close enough to help. So how do we do this?
Here are some tips to help you and your family prepare for the upcoming school year.
Encourage the Use of Proper Safety Gear
Let’s face it. Kids are accident prone. Whether climbing a tree or playing soccer, kids have accidents, and many occur at school. An estimated 2.2 million children ages 14 and under are injured in school-related accidents each year. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help minimize the risk.
Start by enforcing safety rules at home so your child has better, safer habits at school as well. Also, make sure they are prepared with any safety equipment they might need to play sports — and make sure they’re actually wearing it. Kids need to understand the importance of using their protective active wear. The helmet can’t protect your head if it’s on the floor!
Talk About Bullying
Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online (1 in 4 has had it happen more than once). We must talk to our kids about bullying and its many forms to help them recognize it. Then make sure they know what to do about it or who they should tell if they see something. Bullying is an intimidating experience, but helping your kids know they can turn to you or a teacher is important to help put it to an end.
Keep Germs Off
Germs and bacteria are everywhere. And schools seem to be a breeding ground for sickness. Remind your kids it’s not ok to share food and drinks. Make sure they are practicing good hygiene and washing hands properly. Also, covering mouths when coughing and noses when sneezing will help contain germs (and help kids be well-mannered). You can even give them a small bottle of hand sanitizer and package of tissues to keep in their backpacks. Arming them with the tools to practice these good habits is half the battle. And the more often you remind them and practice it your everyday lives, the more likely they are to do the same at school when you’re not around.
Prepare for Emergencies
No one likes to think about what would happen if a disaster or emergency strikes, but we must prepare for the possibility. The best thing to do is to explain to your kids what any potential threats could be. Talk to them about what could happen and what they need to do in each instance. Does your family have an emergency plan of action? Do they know who to call if they can’t reach you? These are all things to consider.
Create an action plan for each member of your family and print out a copy for everyone to keep on hand. That way, if something happens, they all know exactly what to do and are all on the same page. Keeping calm when faced with an intense emergency situation is not always easy so this go-to reference could be a big help.
If you see something, say something. That’s the lesson we should be teaching children. Too many times, problems persist because no one says anything. So, the first thing we need to do is raise awareness. Once we understand what the problems are, we can do something about them.
Talk to your child’s school to see what kind of reporting structure they have in place for both parents and students. More and more schools across the country are putting training programs in place to help staff be better prepared for the diverse incidents that can take place in schools these days. Speak to your district administrators about what policies they have in place so you and your family can stay better connected and strengthen the commitment to safety for everyone.
Communication is Key
Whatever the topic, communication should always be encouraged. You should have a casual dialogue with your child so they know they can talk to you about anything. You need to let them know that you are there to listen and help, without getting upset. When your children know they can come to you with anything, they will be more likely to share with you, giving you the opportunity to help!
Read the full story here.