lazy days of summer have come to an end and it's time to
prepare for the routine of the school year and after school
activities. While many parents and children are looking
forward to another year of learning and fun, back to school
safety should be a priority for your family.
millions of children head back to school, parents, teachers,
and caregivers should look for and check hidden hazards
in schools to help prevent injuries and deaths to children.
Check your child's school, childcare facility and playground
for hidden hazards.
a good example with your own actions - lock doors and windows
and see who's there before opening the door.
Take time to listen carefully to your children's fears and
feelings about people or places that scare them or
make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts.
If children complain about being "bullied"
take their complaint seriously.
Playgrounds - Check surfaces around playground equipment.
Playgrounds should have 12-inch depths of wood chips, mulch,
sand or pea gravel, or safety-tested rubber or fiber mats
to prevent head injury when a child falls. Each year, more
than 200,000 children are treated in hospital emergency
rooms for playground-associated injuries. These injuries
occur when a child falls from the equipment.
on Jackets and Sweatshirts - Remove drawstrings on hoods
or around the neck. Cut drawstrings at the waist or bottom
of jackets and sweatshirts to 3 inches. In the last 12 years,
22 children have died when drawstrings caught on school
buses, playground equipment and other products.
on Window Blind Cords - If the windows in your home,
schools or facilities where your children spend time have
blinds, be sure to cut the loop on two-corded horizontal
blinds, and attach separate tassels to prevent entanglement
and strangulation in window blind cords. Do not cut the
loops on vertical blinds, continuous loop systems and drapery
cords that use looped cords to function.. Instead, install
a permanent tie-down device. Approximately one child a month
dies from strangulation with window covering cords.
Helmets - More and more kids ride their bikes to school.
Make sure they always wear their helmet. All bike helmets
manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S. are required
to meet the new federal safety standards. Each year, more
than 200 children are killed in bicycle-related incidents,
and about 60 percent of these deaths involve a head injury.
Helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85
Goals - Anchor soccer goals into the ground to prevent
them from tipping over and crushing a child. In the last
20 years approximately 24 deaths have been reported from
soccer goal tip over.
This Checklist To Keep Your Children For This School Year:
- Teach your child to memorize his/her home phone number
and address, your work number, the number of another trusted
with area codes and how to use 911 for emergencies.
Be sure kids know to call 9-1-1 or "O" in emergencies
and how to use a public phone. Practice making emergency
calls with a make-believe phone. Be sure your child has
enough change or carries a phone calling card to make a
- EVERYONE who gets into a car must be properly restrained
in the vehicle. This includes seat belts and child restraint
systems. All children riding bikes must wear helmets. It's
Plan and rehearse a walking route to school or the bus stop.
Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings
and use intersections with crossing guards. Test the route
with your child. Tell him/her to stay away from parks, vacant
lots, fields, and other places that are empty and don't
have many people around.
- Make sure children walk to and from school with others
- for example a friend, neighbor, or sibling.
- Whether walking, biking, or riding the bus to school,
teach children to obey all traffic signals, signs, traffic
officers, and safety patrols. Caution them to be extra careful
in bad weather.
- When car pooling, drop off and pick up children directly
in front of the school. Do not leave until they have entered
the school yard or building. Make sure all car pool parents
follow this important safety procedure.
- Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept
rides or gifts from strangers. A stranger is anyone you
or your children don't know, don't know well or don't trust.
Tell them never to accept rides or gifts from someone they
and you don't know well.
- Teach children to go to a store clerk, security guard,
or police officer for help if lost in a mall or store or
on the street.
For both children and parents, school bus safety is an important
issue which is often overlooked. Everyone should know the
traffic safety rules in their community. School bus transportation
is safe. Yet, last year, approximately 26 students were
killed and another 9,000 were injured in incidents involving
school buses. More often than not, these deaths and injuries
didn't occur in a crash. They occurred as students were
entering and exiting the bus.
Remember these safety tips:
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus
is scheduled to pick up children.
- Have a safe place to wait for your bus, away from traffic
and the street.
- Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop
and the driver signals you to enter.
- When being dropped off, exit the bus and walk ten giant
steps away from the bus.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the bus. Remember
that the bus driver can see you best when you are back
away from the bus.
- Use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
- Stay away from the bus until the driver gives his/her
signal that it's okay to approach.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- Be aware of the street traffic around you. Drivers are
required to follow certain rules of the road concerning
school buses, however, not all do. Protect yourself and
- Teach children to get in the habit of looking around them
before they get on and off the bus, so they don't forget
- Teach children that it is important for the bus driver
to know where they are at all times.
- When boarding or getting off the bus, children should
be aware of book bag straps, or any other drawstrings that
might be hanging from their clothes. These can easily get caught
in doors or railings.
To School By Car
Most traffic crashes occur close to home.
- Safety belts are the best form of protection passengers
have in the event of a crash.They can lower risk of injury
- You are four times more likely to be seriously injured
or killed if ejected from the vehicle in a crash.
- Everyone needs to be buckled up properly. That means
older kids in seat belts, younger kids in booster seats
and little kids in child safety seats.
and Biking to School
your kids don't get to school by car or bus, they still
need to be protected. There are many situations and dangers
while walking to and from school. Here are a few basic safety
tips to follow:
- Obey all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard.
- Never cross the street against a light, even if you don't
see any traffic coming.
- Walk your bike through intersections.
- For children walking to school, plan a walking route to
school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way
with the fewest street crossings. Use intersections with
crossing guards. Rehearse the route with your child. Tell
him/her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields
and other places where there aren't many people around.
- Teach children - whether walking, biking, or riding the
bus to school - to obey all traffic signals, signs,
traffic officers and safety patrols. Remind them to be extra
careful in rainy, foggy or other inclement weather.
- Make sure they walk to and from school with others
have a buddy.
- Wear reflective material...it makes you more visible to
riding is a popular activity for children. Obeying rules
and regulations when riding bikes is critical to children's
safety. Each year, more than half a million cyclists end
up at the doctor's office or emergency room due to bike
crashes. Teach children to:
- Wear a helmet. Studies prove that wearing a bicycle helmet
can reduce head injuries by up to 85%. Choose a helmet
that fits snugly and comfortably. Parents should always wear
a helmet to set a good example.
- Look both ways. Many car-bicycle crashes occur at driveways
and other intersections. Children should walk his/her bike
across busy streets, at corners and crosswalks.
- Wear light-colored and close-fitting clothes that make
them more visible. By wearing these clothes they can
avoid being caught in the bike's moving parts. They should
never carry books in their hands while biking. Books
and other loose items should be fixed to a properly
installed carrying device or placed in a backpack.
- Obey the rules of the road. This includes traffic signs,
signals, and road markings.
- Ride only in safe places such as parks, school grounds,
bike trails, and sidewalks.
- Riding is best where there is little traffic and there
is adult supervision.
- Be careful if bike riding at night. If an older child
is permitted to ride at night, be sure that he/she
wears reflective clothing or materials (especially on ankles,
wrists, back, and helmet), he/she rides in areas that are
familiar and on streets that are brightly lighted, and his/her
bike has a headlight and front and rear reflectors.
- Always lock a bicycle securely
even if it's just
for a few minutes. U-locks secure both wheels and the frame
to a stationary object (such as a post, fence, tree, or
bike rack.) For extra security, add a chain or cable
with a good padlock. Record the bike's serial number and
keep it in a safe place together with the sales receipt
and a photograph of the bike. Mark the bike with an engraver.
This helps police in identifying and returning your
Your Children Ready To Be Home Alone?
families have both parents working. Other children come
from single-parent families where that parent must work.
Ask yourself if your children are ready to be alone after
alone without being afraid?
- Follow rules and instructions?
- Be trusted to go straight home after school?
- Easily use the telephone, locks, and kitchen appliances?
- Handle unexpected situations without panicking?
"Home Alone" Children
always check in with you or a neighbor immediately after
- How to call 9-1-1, or your area's emergency number, or
call the operator.
- How to give directions to your home, in case of emergency.
- Never to accept gifts or rides from people they don't
know or don't know well.
- How to use the door and window locks, and the alarm system
if you have one.
- To never let anyone into your home without asking your
- To never let a caller at the door or on the phone know
that they're alone. Teach them to say "Mom can't come
to the phone (or door) right now."
- To always carry their house key with them in a safe place.
Never leave it under a mat or on a ledge outside
- How to escape in case of fire. Rehearse scenarios so they
know what to do and won't panic.
- Not to go into an empty house or apartment if things don't
look right- a broken window, a ripped screen, or opened
- To let you know about anything that frightens them or
makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Make sure your children are old enough and mature enough
to care for themselves.
- Basic safety rules.
- Know where your kids are, what they're doing, and who
- Check on state laws about the age at which children can
be left at home alone.
- Agree on rules for inviting friends over and for going
to a friend's house when no adult is home.
- Take time to listen carefully to children's fears and
feelings about people or places that scare them or
make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts.
Take complaints about bullies and other concerns seriously.
Talk to your school administrators and/or pediatrician for
advice and support.
are naturally curious. Be sure to talk to them about the
deadly consequences of guns, medicines, power tools, drugs,
alcohol, cleaning products, and inhalants. Keep these items
in a secure place out of sight and locked up.
sure your child checks in with you or a neighbor immediately
- Set up rules and procedures for locking doors and windows,
answering the door or telephone. Be sure to rehearse these
- Agree on rules for inviting friends over and for going
to a friend's house when no adult is home.
Would Your Child Do If...
- He/she were lost at a shopping mall or at a large gathering
such as a carnival?
- Someone they knew wanted to play a game and keep it secret?
- A friendly stranger offered him/her a ride home after
are trusting by nature. With parents finding it difficult
to teach children to balance trust with caution, parents
should teach kids keeps them safe and how to handle dangerous
School And Play
- Urge your children to walk and play with their friends.
Tell them not to play or walk alone, and stay away
from places that could be dangerous, such as vacant buildings,
- Work out safe routes to and from school, stores, and friends'
houses. Walk the routes together and show them places
they could go for help.
- By teaching children to settle arguments with words, not
fists you are creating safety and non-violence. Teach them
to walk away when others are arguing. Let them know that
teasing can hurt friends and make enemies - and even hurt
- Urge kids to be alert. If they see something that doesn't
seem right they should tell a trusted adult.
- Check out daycare and after-school programs. Ask about
certifications, staff qualifications, rules on parent
permission for field trips, reputation in the community, parent
participation, and policies on parent visits.
- Check out the school's policies on absent children. Are
parents called when a child is absent?
can be a serious problem for kids. It is one of the most
minimized and persistent problems in our schools today.
The sad thing is - it's a reality for all children, whether
they're victims, witnesses, or they're the bullies.
Children are born into the world innocent - without defenses.
Another child or an adult comes along who is a product of
abuse, rage, or being a 'bully' victim and the cycle continues.
Whether it's at school or at home, anyone who is bullied
will very often feel depressed and have low self-esteem.
And if you're a bully, you are more likely to be hostile
Bulling can cause serious problems which tend to be ignored
by adults. Anyone can be the target of bullying. A typical
victim is usually shy, sensitive, and perhaps anxious or
insecure. Sometimes children are picked on for physical
reasons such as being overweight or too short, having a
disability, or belonging to a different race or religious
bullies are outgoing, aggressive, active, and expressive.
They use brute force or harass someone. Others can be more
reserved and manipulative so they are not recognized as
If Your Child Is Being Bullied
Sometimes the effects of bullying aren't as obvious as a
black eye. Other signs to look for include:
- The sudden appearance of bruises, missing belongings,
or the invention of mysterious illnesses or stomach
aches to avoid going to school.
- Your child may be embarrassed or feel weak by admitting
he's the victim of a bully. To make it easier for your
child to talk about it, consider asking some thoughtful
a child will unexpectedly change routines to avoid a bully.
Or you could ask about what happens before or after school
or during recess. You might also try asking if there are
any bullies in the neighborhood who have threatened to hurt
any kids your child knows. This might make it easier for
your child to talk about bullies because he won't necessarily
have to talk about his own experiences. It might also help
your child realize that he's not alone.
you learn that your child is the victim of a bully, do not
overreact. Remember that your child is the victim; you do
not want to add to your child's burden with an angry or
blaming response. Although it's understandable that hearing
your child is being bullied would make you sad or upset,
try not to let your child see that - he might interpret
your sadness as disappointment in him.
Your Child Stand Up To A Bully
listen to your child. Just talking about the problem and
knowing that you care can be helpful and comforting.
Your child is likely to feel vulnerable, so it's important
that you let him/her know you're on his side and that you
- Talk to your child about why some people act like bullies.
Remember that your child may feel guilty, that he is
somehow to blame. Reassure your child that he did not cause the
bullying. Explain that kids who bully are usually confused
How Your Child Can Handle A Hostile Confrontation With
- Getting angry or violent won't solve the problem
just what the bully wants. Responding with physical
aggression can put your child at risk. Yet, obeying the
bully is not a good way to handle the situation. Your
child must regain his/her sense of dignity and recover
his/her damaged self-esteem.
- Empower your child to act first. Suggest that he/she look
the bully in the eye and firmly say, "I don't
like your teasing and I want you to stop right now."
Your child should then walk away and ignore any further
harassment from the bully. If your child fears physical harm,
he/she should try to find a teacher or move toward friends
who can provide comfort and support.
- Bullies often target socially slow children. Urge your
child to develop more friendships, join social organizations,
clubs, or teams, and to invite other kids over after school
from time to time.
In most cases, bullying won't require your intervention,
but if you worry that your child could be harmed, it's important
that you step in. That may mean walking to school with your
child or talking to your child's teacher about the problem.
Your child may be embarrassed, but his/her safety should
be your primary concern.
- Coping with bullying can be difficult, but remember, they
are not the problem - the bully is! They have a right
to feel safe and secure.
- If they are different in some way, be proud of it!
- Spend time with their friends - bullies hardly ever pick
on people if they're with others in a group.
- They've probably already tried ignoring the bully, telling
them to stop and walking away whenever the bullying
starts. If someone is bullying them, they should always
tell an adult they can trust. This isn't telling tales.
They have a right to be safe and adults can do things
to get the the bullying stopped. Even if they think they've
solved the problem on their own, they should tell an
adult anyway, in case it happens again. An adult they can
trust might be you, a teacher, school principal, someone
else from your family, or a friend's parent.
- If they find it difficult to talk about being bullied,
they might find it easier to write down what's been
happening to them and give it to you or an adult they trust.
more detailed information on Bullying click here
Your Child From Sexual Abuse
Tell children that if someone tries to touch them and do
things that make them feel uncomfortable, saying NO to that
person is okay and to tell you immediately
professional prevention programs in your schools and community
communication between you and your kids is essential. Let
them know they can tell ot talk to you about anything.
a "NO SECRET" rule. Tell your child that secrets
can be dangerous and no matter how bad it is,
they must tell you.
Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult if they are
hurt or scared. Your child should know about the parts of
the body and sexuality.
Stress that children have a right to body privacy and self-ownership.
children should be taught a sense of self worth and dignity.
Spend time with your children. Lonely and attention starved
kids are easy targets to molesters.
Make it a priority to know your children's friends and their
Listen to your instincts. If a situation or person makes
you uncomfortable, trust your feelings.
Teach your child to trust their feelings and listen to what
your child tells you.
you have questions about your child's sexual development,
talk to your child's pediatrician, or a child psychologist
or child psychiatrist. When seeking professional advice,
ask whether or not the qualified professional has any training
regarding child development and sexual abuse.
Sexually abused children and their families must seek immediate
professional evaluation and treatment. Child and adolescent
psychologists and psychiatrists can help abused children
regain a sense of self-esteem, cope with guilt, and deal
with the trauma.
more detailed information on Sexual Abuse click here.
Talk To Your Child About Alcohol And Other Drugs
A big problem for kids is peer pressure which can include
pressure to use alcohol and other drugs even in elementary
grades. Parents must talk to their kids about this issue
... school programs aren't enough.
Here are some tips for raising drug-free children:
- Listen to your child. Pay careful attention. If your child
tells you something don't ignore it ... talk about it.
- Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of drug use.
- Help your child develop good self-esteem and develop strong
- Talk about values such as honesty and responsibility with
- Teach your child ways to say no. Don't exaggerate about
the effects of drugs.
- Tell your child the difference between medicine and illegal
- Set a good example. If you drink alcohol, be responsible.
You are your child's role model and your child could
copy your habits and attitudes.
- Tell your child what behaviors and habits are legal for
adults, but not for children. Don't use illegal drugs.
- Help your child learn to deal with peer pressure.
To Your Child About Guns
- Help keep children safe from guns and other weapons.
- Explain to kids that gun violence in the movies, on TV,
and in video games is not real. These mediums don't show
the pain and suffering gun violence causes. Tell your kids
how guns hurt and kill people in real life.
- Teach kids from preschoolers to teens, that guns and other
weapons can hurt and kill. Urge your child to report
any weapon they know about at school or in the neighborhood to
a trusted adult. Tell them NEVER to touch the weapon for
- Teach your child how to settle arguments without violence.
Talk openly with them about their problems. Set a good example
and show them how you handle anger and disagreements.
- Support your school system in their efforts to keep guns,
knives, and other weapons out of schools.
- If you own handguns, rifles, or shotguns, make sure they
are unloaded and securely stored in a locked area.
Use trigger locks, gun cabinets with locks, and pistol lock boxes
and keep ammunition locked up separately from weapons.
To Do About Media Violence
- America's kids are bombarded with violent media messages
- from newspapers, books, magazines, billboards, television,
movies, videos, video and computer games, and music.
Because it is not real life, consequences of violent actions
are not displayed, leaving kids to think violence is an
acceptable way to deal with problems.
- TV and movies have the biggest impact on your child.
- Cartoons and commercials average 25 violent acts per hour.
Babies as young as 14 months will imitate what they
see people do on TV. Many kids choose media figures as their
- Violence in books, magazines, newspapers, movies, videos,
songs, and computer and video games can also affect
of your children's media consumption occurs outside of school.
Establish a family rule there is no place for violence
in your home. Monitor reading materials, TV and radio programs,
games, and the Internet.
- Watch TV with your children. Be aware of what and how
much they are watching.
- Limit your child's television viewing to two hours or
less per day. Plan a weekly schedule of the programs
you want to view together. Keep your TV off when your selected programs
are not being viewed. Interpret programs for your child
and explain what is real and what is not.
- Have your children participate in at-home and non-violent
Help For Your Kids
- Create programs with schools, religious institutions,
libraries, recreational and community centers, and
local youth organizations to give children ages 10 and older
a place to go and something to do after school - a
"homework haven," with sports, crafts, classes
- Ask your workplace to sponsor a safety class for employees'
children. You can kick it off with a parent awareness/education
breakfast or lunch.
- Develop a homework hotline in your community for latchkey
kids to call for help or just talk.
- Start a block parent program in your community to offer
children help in emergencies or frightening situations.
For information on how to start a block parent program in
your neighborhood contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Safety For Your Child
The Internet can be a fun and exciting place where your
child can find learning tools and resources. Kids who have
access to online services, in or outside the home, enjoy
learning about a wide variety of topics, communicating with
friends and family by e-mail, chatting with other computer
users, and surfing the Web.
the Internet offers many positive things, there are times
when Internet surfing can be dangerous. Educate your child
about the dangers of the Internet and use parental Internet
security programs to block inappropriate sites. Many of
these products will allow you to control your children's
access to certain areas on the Internet.
- Set up a master account in your name and don't give your
child the password. Many services allow you to create
separate screen names for children, allowing you to block access
to inappropriate areas.
- By placing your computer in an open area such as the family
or living room, you can keep an eye on your child's Internet
activities. Be very clear that if you cannot see what they
are doing online, then they cannot do it.
- Discuss with your child ways to handle certain situations
ahead of time. Discuss what your child should do if
someone sends them a message over the Internet that scares,
threatens them, or makes them feel uncomfortable. If he/she
sees threatening or obscene material on the Internet, report
it to the sender's Internet service provider immediately.
- Establish a clear set of rules and guidelines for computer
use post them near the computer.
- Make Internet surfing a family activity and get involved
in your children's Internet activities.
- Help your child find healthy, positive Web sites and bookmark
them on the computer.
- Teach your child to never give out his or her name,address,
phone number, school name, his/her parent's or siblings name
to anyone online.
- Tell your child to never send a picture of themselves
or another family member to anyone online without explicit
- Explain to your child that they must never arrange to
meet anyone they meet on the computer face to face,
or speak on the phone with them without your permission.
- Explain to your child that they should never respond to
messages that are obscene, threatening, or make them feel
your child that they must tell you or another trusted adult
if they encounter anything on the Internet that makes them
- Tell your child to never enter an area that charges for
services without your permission.
- Educate your child that not all people online are who
they seem to be.
- Tell your child that these rules apply even when at school
or at a friend's house.
- Even with blocking software, it is possible that your
child could come across something inappropriate. Talk to
your kids about exploitation, pornography, hate literature,
or excessive violence so that they know how to respond when
they encounter such things both online and in the real world.
Your First Priority
It is important that children be aware of how to respond
to potentially threatening situations involving strangers.
Most parents tell their children not to talk to strangers,
and aren't sure how else to protect them.
Warnings are not enough! Children don't understand that
strangers can be people who act friendly and don't necessarily
look scary or dangerous. Kids can be lulled into a false
sense of security if a stranger hangs around, becoming familiar
after a day or two. There are a number of basic safety rules
kids can follow that will lessen their chance of being harmed.
Share these rules with children.
- It's easy for kids to get separated from their parents
in public places. Tell your children if they do get separated,
not to wander around looking you. They should go to a checkout counter
or the security office and immediately tell the person in
charge that they are lost and can't find their mom and dad.
- Tell children to never get into a car or go anywhere with
any person unless you have told them that it's okay to go
with that person.
- Teach your child that If someone follows them on foot
or in a car, to stay away from that person. They should
never go near the car or get inside it. They should run
to a crowded, well-lit place and where they can get help.
- Teach your children that under no circumstances should
they go anywhere with a stranger - not even to help find
a lost puppy, or if the stranger tells them that their mother or
father is in trouble and that he or she will take them to
- Teach your children and rehearse with them that If someone
tries to take them somewhere, to quickly get away from him/her
and yell: "This man (woman) is trying to take
me away" or "This person is not my father (or
- Kids should establish a 'buddy system" and never
go anywhere alone.
- Establish with your children to always ask for permission
to leave the yard or play area, or to go into someone's
home. They must let you know where they are; be back when they're
- NO adult should ask children to keep a special secret.
Tell your children that if someone does tell them to
keep a secret, to tell you or another adult they trust.
- Tell your kids that if someone they or their family doesn't
know well wants to take their picture of them to say "NO"
and tell you or another trusted adult.
- Teach children that no one should touch them in the parts
of their body that are covered by their bathing suit,
nor should they touch anyone else in those areas. A child's
body is special and private.
- Children have the right to say "NO" to someone
who tries to take them somewhere, touches them, or makes
them feel uncomfortable in any way. Rehearse various scenarios
and teach them how to say and scream "NO."
- When talking to your children, remember that each child
develops differently, and what may be appropriate to
say to one child may not be the case for another.
- Listen, listen, listen!
- Be there for your children at all times!