The 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.
As 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.
Set 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.
Drawstrings 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.
Loops 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.
Bike 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 percent.
Soccer 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.
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.
If 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:
Bicycle 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:
Many 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 school.
Kids 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.
Kids 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 situations.
Bullying 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 and antisocial.
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 faith.
Some 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 bullies.
Sometimes the effects of bullying aren't as obvious as a black eye. Other signs to look for include:
If 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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