Every day, millions of children take to the streets and roadways to get to and from school. They walk, ride their bicycles, take buses and arrive in vehicles with one purpose-getting to and from school safely. However children get there, it’s important that families take time to talk about safety and supervise their children’s journey.
“While the vast majority of children get to and from school safely, some children can run into unexpected dangers,” said Nancy A. McBride, National Safety Director at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). “If a child has been told how to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations, chances are better that he or she will deal with trouble in a smarter and safer way.”
Here are some quick and easy tips from “Know the Going to and From School More Safely” by NCMEC:
Teach Your Children
Instruct your child to always take a friend when walking or riding his or her bike to and from school. They should walk and ride in well-lit areas and never take shortcuts. When walking and biking, it’s also important they stay aware of their surroundings and observe all traffic rules.
Even though there is safety in numbers, it’s still not safe for young children to walk to and from school, especially if they must take isolated routes. Always provide supervision for your young children to help ensure their safe arrival.
Your child should stay with a group while waiting at the bus stop. Teach him or her to get away from anyone who bothers your child while going to or from school, and to tell you or another trusted adult. If an adult approaches your child for help or directions, he or she should remember that grownups needing help should not ask children for help; they should ask other adults.
Tell your children that if anyone they don’t know, or a person who confuses, scares or makes them feel uncomfortable, offers them a ride, say no. Children should never accept a ride from anyone unless you have told them it is OK to do so in each instance.
Children should be taught to never leave school with anyone they don’t know and to always check first with you or another trusted adult. If anyone says there’s an emergency and wants your child to go with him or her, your children should always check first before doing anything.
Teach them to make a scene and every effort to get away by yelling loudly, kicking, screaming and resisting if anyone tries to grab them.
Talking with your children, supervising their activities and making safety a priority for everyone in the family are the best ways to help protect them from abduction, violence and exploitation. Child safety resources such as StreetSentz: Common Sentz Tips for Safer Kidz can help families to have these conversations and make smart decisions.
Created by RadioShack and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, StreetSentz provides families with tools to educate and empower their children with ways to stay safer.