It’s hard to believe until you enter any store--school is almost back in session! And while most parents keep a close eye on back-to-school sales, and tax-free holidays, it’s also a good time to refresh yourself on how to keep your children safe!
They may be all the rage, but getting your child’s new back-to-school book bag personalized with his or her name could be a safety mistake this fall. The younger the child, the more vulnerable they could actually be.
“Strangers are people who we don’t know and who don’t know us,” says frequent Nancy Grace guest and president of the KlaasKids Foundation Marc Klaas. Klaas’ 12-year-old daughter Polly was brutally murdered. His goal now is to create a legacy in Polly’s name to stop crimes against children.
“If a man approaches a child and says, ‘Hey little girl, get into my car,’ it is very different than if he approaches and says, ‘Sarah, I’m a friend of your mom’s and she asked me to drive you home,’” Klaas adds.
Secondly, it’s worth mentioning for the health of your child that the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests you choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back, or better yet a rolling backpack if your school allows.
If your child takes the school bus
First and foremost, if your child is the only one at the bus stop, you have a decision to make: ask for the bus stop to be merged to another stop close by or wait with your child until the bus comes. The younger the child, the more important it is they are not alone.
No matter the age of your child, the National Safety Council advises parents make sure kids stand six feet away from the curb. A simple one-time demonstration of where it’s safe to stand can really hammer home the distance. An approaching bus with flashing lights and the race to get the “best seat” can cause children to be a little too enthusiastic to step into the street.
If your child walks to school
KlaasKids Foundation recommends that your child walk to school with at least one other person--there is safety in numbers.
Who doesn’t like to get home a few minutes early, or make up time running late? But make sure your child knows they should never, ever take a shortcut path to get to or from school, especially in the case of alleys, stairwells, or lightly-traveled areas. These are all locations that are ripe for predators.
Dropping your child off at school
It may be so obvious that it gets overlooked. When dropping your child off at school, watch to make sure they get into the building. The walk may only take 30 seconds, but as we’ve unfortunately learned, it only takes a second for something unfortunate to strike.