You’re walking out the door half asleep (five minutes behind schedule – it never fails) with your laptop case thrown over your shoulder, coffee in one hand and holding your youngest child’s hand with your free hand. Your high-schooler is pulling out of the driveway (blaring that music you hate at 7:30 a.m.!) with her cellphone in one hand (and only one hand on the wheel), and your middle-schooler is on his way out the door falling right behind you (hopefully).
To say the whole family is disoriented and sleepy while rushing to school every morning is probably a spot-on statement, and safety tips are probably not top of mind during the morning rush. So when you do have a few quiet minutes, take the time to review school and online safety rules with your children to keep everyone safe.
Around-School Safety — In the hustle and bustle of the morning school routine, parents and students can easily be distracted. Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, states that “… almost 1 million children die of injuries each year, and children sustain more than 39,000 nonfatal pedestrian injuries each year.”
A few safety tips can help keep children safe while traveling to and from school.
- Don’t allow students (especially young children) to cross streets alone. Remind them to cross the street safely at the crosswalk, in front of the crossing guard or with a walking buddy (preferably an older child).
- Teach your child to “look left, right and left again” before crossing the street. Cross when the street is clear, and keep looking both ways while crossing.
- Children should stay away from playing in driveways, unfenced yards, streets or parking lots.
- As the daylight hours shorten during the fall, add reflective materials to clothing so children can be seen by cars and pedestrians in the dark.
- To keep teens from texting and driving, DriveSafe.ly and Text’nDrive are apps that read text messages and emails aloud and automatically respond without drivers touching their mobile phones.
Online Safety — Part of the education experience is online learning, with students surfing the Internet for homework help, research or enrichment. The Internet is a helpful resource, but surfing and browsing can be dangerous, especially with online predators and cyberbullying. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, “93% of teens (ages 12 – 17) go online; 80% of children (ages five and under) use the Internet at least once a week; one in three teens has experienced cyberbullying; 97% of teens play computer, Web, portable or console games; 27% of teens play games with people they don’t know online.”
Tools and resources are available for parents to help keep their children safe and monitor online activities.
- SafeSearch is a Google search filter that keeps explicit images, search results and videos hidden.
- Google+ settings and safety notifications offers safety default settings for teens and young adults on Google+.
- SafetyWeb offers automated parental alerts for social media, texts and mobile phones.
- United Parents offers an Internet security monitoring system.
- Chatman is an “Internet safety buddy” to help children stay safe while online.
- YouTube SafetyMode is a safety feature that filters out videos with mature content or videos that have been age-restricted.
All parents know it’s better to be safe than sorry. What safety precautions do you take to keep your children safe?