There can be little that causes more distress to a parent than the loss of a child to injury or kidnaping. Watching the unfolding of the Elizabeth Smart case in Salt Lake City can testify to the horror that a parent experiences when a child is taken from them. And the recent cases of abuse by teachers, clergy or others with authority over children can make any parent feel more than a little paranoid.
Parents are often most concerned about the safety of children when they are not directly supervised on their way to and from school. But even at school there are safety risks. Taking action now with your children and by being more involved at school will help make school a safer experience.
Walking to SchoolWhile many more parents are driving children to school, there are still a great number of children walking to and from school each day. Walking certainly isn't the safe activity it was when many of us were school children. There are the normal safety risks such as speeding vehicles and errant bicycles. But children who walk also may need to contend with bullies, predators and children who would encourage them to go somewhere besides school. Here are a few tips for dads of children who are early morning and late afternoon pedestrians.
- Know the routes your children take.Develop a safe walking route to school and insist that your children follow it. Avoid having them cross busy streets except where there is a signal or a crossing guard. If your child does not make it to school or home and if you have a standard route, it will be easier to track them down.
- Have your children walk with others.This may seem a simple rule, but it is one that is often disregarded. There truly is safety is numbers. Make sure the children walk in a group. A boy or girl alone is a much easier target for a predator. And besides, it is a lot more fun for them!
- Follow generally smart pedestrian rules. Remind them to use sidewalks where possible. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the side of the road as far to the right as possible. Where possible, walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic so they can see any potential risks before they get to them.
Safety on the BusIf your children ride the bus to school, there are some important rules to remember. They include:
- Remain seated while the bus is moving. Even when they arrive at school they should stay sitting until the bus is stopped.
- Keep all body parts inside the bus at all times. Even an elbow out the window can be a risk.
- Keep the aisles clear. Just hold your backpack on your lap or put it under the seat. There have been a fair number of bus accidents where children had difficulty getting to safety because of a backpack or instrument in the aisle.