08/10/2018 Safety Reminders for Back-to-School

Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist

Safety Reminders for Back-to-School

Does anything go as fast as summer vacation?

Back-to-school time is upon us and parents everywhere are making lists, trying on last year’s clothes and seeking hot deals on supplies. At the same time, kids are soaking up the last few days of freedom before they hit the books once again. And when they go, they’ll leave home with just a tad more independence than they had the year before. Review these tips to help keep safety top of mind among all the excitement, hustle and bustle of a new year.

Streamline social.

If you’re like most parents, you’ll share more than a few snapshots of the first day back to school. And why wouldn’t you? Kids are dressed up and excitement is high during this milestone day. But before you do, consider revisiting your social networks’ privacy pages to ensure you have privacy locked down tight. With a few clicks, you’ll ensure only your family members and friends have access to your photos.

Communicate often.

A great way to minimize social and emotional problems like depression, bullying and peer-pressure, is to keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your children about who their friends are, and whether or not there are tensions rising that could result in a bullying situation. Talk to other parents and be generally aware of the social scene: is your older child being pressured to drink or vape? Pressured to join in on belittling or making fun of someone? If your child is on social media, talk to them about cyber bullying and make sure they aren’t talking to someone they don’t know. Also, be aware that experts are warning that comparing yourself to other people’s “glamorized” lives on social media can cause depression.1

All in the name.

Monograms and personalized items are cute and make it easy for kids to identify their property in a sea of supplies. However, no one needs to know their name while they travel between home and school. Skip putting your child’s name or nickname on their clothing, lunch bag or backpack. And consider creating a family password—an agreed upon secret word that indicates you have asked an adult to speak to your child for you—to help your kids recognize friend from foe.

Carry smart.

When selecting a bag for your child, choose an ergonomic design that is no larger than your child’s torso. Opt for padded straps, chest and hip belts and some reflective material to help with visibility. Be sure to limit the total backpack weight to ten percent of your child’s body weight.2

Travel smarts.

Ensure that your student understands rules of the road and crosswalks, how to safely steer clear of pedestrians, the importance of helmet-wearing and good bus behavior. Keeping a safe distance away from school buses, as well as other traffic, is great advice for all. Practice your child’s route, exactly the way they’ll travel it, several times before the school year begins. If they are driving for the first time, ride with them several times to work out any potential danger spots for merging and for high foot traffic areas. And if they’ll be biking, make sure their helmet fits properly and they’re confident working their bike lock on their own.

Afterschool matters.

An estimated 40% of children are left home alone at some point in time3. Keep yours safe by creating a plan for how they’ll spend their time until you arrive home. Include details on snacks, homework and activities, so nothing is left to imagination. Create a backup plan for what to do if your child can’t get in the house that involves a trusted neighbor or family member who’ll take over until you arrive home. And practice locking and unlocking the door—or turning off the home alarm system—several times before school starts.

A small amount of preparation helps everyone feel more confident and safe when kids return to school this fall. Here’s to healthy, happy and safe 2018-2019 school year!

References:

1 Lee, Katherine. “How to Keep Kids Safe on Social Media.” Verywell Family, Verywellfamily, verywellfamily.com/social-media-for-kids-how-to-keep-them-safe-621147.
2 "Backpack Safety: It's Time to Lighten the Load." National Safety Council. National Safety Council, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2017.
3 Aacap. “Home Alone Children.” Adopted Children, aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Home-Alone-Children-046.aspx.

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