Our greatest asset and our most valuable resource — our children! Now whether you’re brand new to the parenting game or a veteran of many a wee one, safety is always of the utmost importance. Giving them responsibility and letting do things on their own is a huge part of their development but every child is different. Have a conversation with them to figure out where their comfort level is on something like walking to school on their own. Here are some things to think about when they do:
1) Walk to and from school with a friend or in groups.
2) Never accept a ride without first getting permission from parents.
3) Never take shortcuts. Always stick to routes selected by parents, and stay on main roads.
4) If they have a cell phone, make sure it’s charged and the ringer is on. If not, remind them that 911 is a FREE call, even from a pay phone.
5) Never advertise if they are “latch key kids,” and wear their house key on a string underneath clothing.
6) Have “home alone” plans for emergencies, and for phone and door answering.
7) Have landmarks on school routes, like “on my way home, if I am past the church on Main Street and there’s a problem, I’m closer to home and should go there. If I haven’t reached the church, I’m closer to school and should go back.”
8) Be aware of “safe havens” along walking routes (police stations, fire stations, retail shops), which represent the “right” strangers from which to seek help in immediate danger. Keep on the look-out for Block Parents or if there is a neighbourhood watch program in your area.
9) Report ALL suspicious behavior and “new adult friends” to parents.
10) Never leave school with anyone without checking with school officials.