Back-to-school doesn’t have to mean back-to-worrying. Though safety inside your child’s school is ultimately the responsibility of the principal and school staff, parents can take a few basic steps to ensure a safe school experience, too. These are recommended by the National Association of Elementary School Principals :
Learn the school’s emergency procedures. Emergency plans and phone numbers are usually included in school handbooks and posted in classrooms. Taking a few extra minutes to familiarize yourself and your child with emergency information can give him the confidence he needs to act quickly in emergency situations. Know travel routes to and from the school. Make sure you and your child know both primary and alternate routes. In an emergency, roads can be blocked and it’s important to have a backup plan. Know and follow school security and safety measures. These might include signing in when visiting the school, being escorted when walking through the building, or wearing a visitor pass. Following these procedures also sets a great example for your kids. Talk with your child about safety. Be specific. Talk about instinct and paying attention to funny feelings of fear. Explain what to do if she doesn’t feel safe (find a teacher, call 911, etc.). Make sure she knows how to contact you or a trusted neighbor who is likely to be at home. Inform school staff about health and emotional concerns. Whether your child has a food allergy, a physical disability, or has been subject to bullying, make sure to keep your child’s teachers and principal in the loop, Get involved. Talk with the principal about what you can do to increase school safety, such as organizing parents to form a neighborhood watch before and after school. Sometimes parent groups are highly successful in making improvements in traffic safety during drop off and pick up times.
MORE: Shop Back-to-School Stories
Why do we need to ensure the safety of children?
The importance of personal safety – Research shows that teaching children about personal safety:
- Reduces the likelihood of a child entering into an unsafe situation.
- Clearly demonstrates how to respond to an unsafe situation.
- Increases a child’s sense of confidence and in doing so increases their resiliency.
- Increases a child’s knowledge of their personal rights i.e. “I have the right to feel safe with people”.
- Increases the likelihood that the child will speak out if they feel unsafe and tell someone they trust.
- Can interrupt or prevent grooming.
How do children feel safe?
Fires, car accidents, plane crashes, earthquakes. Shootings in schools, movie theaters, and airports. War and terrorism The list of horrible things that can happen is endless. And the fact that the world can be very dangerous is in stark contrast to one of our jobs as parents—to give our children safe space to explore the world and become independent individuals.
- But how do we do this when we can’t guarantee their safety all the time? And how do we respond to our kids when they’re frightened by the very real dangers of today’s world? Kids may respond to feeling unsafe in a variety of ways.
- They might act out, becoming increasingly defiant and aggressive.
- They may cry more, struggle to fall asleep, have nightmares, isolate themselves, or have stomachaches.
Our children need our help to feel safe and to manage the feelings associated with tragedy and violence. Here are some tips on how to help kids feel safe:
Maintain structure and routine. Kids feel safe when their environment is structured and they know what is happening next. This is most important when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Maintaining mealtimes and bedtimes and keeping rules and limits consistent is important in helping kids feel safe. Minimize and monitor their access to media violence. Research shows that by age 18 an American child will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence via the media. Young children aren’t able to recognize what’s real and what’s acting. Seeing violence on TV can leave them feeling like their world is a scary place, where things like that might happen at any moment. Minimizing our children’s access to violent images will help them feel safer and more secure, and decrease the likelihood of them acting aggressively toward others. Remind them of all the people looking out for them and protecting them. Recently I had a therapy client who had been in her school when it was on lockdown after a shooting in Novato. She was having difficulty sleeping and barely eating. Her parents weren’t sure how to help her and didn’t feel like they could honestly say to her, “Don’t worry, you’re safe, you’ll always be okay.” We started to make a list of the people in charge of keeping her safe—her parents, her teachers, the police and firefighters, her dog, me, her aunts and uncles the list was long. Then we drew a picture of her, and of all of her protectors surrounding her. By the end, the paper was crowded with her pictures, a testament to the layers of safety created by those charged with keeping her safe. So while we can’t guarantee our kids’ safety, we can remind them how many people love them and are looking out for them. Help them realize how strong and capable they are. When you see your child make a smart, safe choice, point it out to them! When they remember to wear their bike helmet, take your hand when entering a crowded space, or approach a strange dog carefully, take note of this and point it out to them. Let them know that they are capable of making safe choices and being aware of their surroundings. Kids will feel empowered to know that they have skills and inherent knowledge to stay safe in a not-so-safe world. Recognize when they need professional help. If your child is repeatedly expressing that they feel unsafe and are unable to be soothed, or if these feelings are impacting their sleep, or ability to learn at school, it’s probably time to seek professional help. The professionals at Parents Place can offer parent consultations and child therapy. They can partner with you determine how to best support your child and help your child develop tools to manage their anxiety.
Alyse Clayman, LCSW, provides consultation and therapy to families and children of all ages.
What are the 4 Cs of child safety?
Understanding KCSIE’s Four Cs of Online Risk This webinar will provide designated safeguarding leads, senior leaders and teachers with an understanding of the four categories of online risk as defined by, including what approaches schools and colleges can take to help safeguard children from harm.
- Eeping children safe in education makes it a statutory requirement that schools safeguard children and young people from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material.
- The guidance states that whilst the breadth of issues classified within online safety is considerable and ever-evolving, they can be categorised into four areas of risk; content, contact, conduct and commerce.
In this webinar, Gary Henderson, a cyber security expert with over 20 years’ experience working in education, explains what the four Cs of online risk are, how schools can keep pupils safe and what advice they can provide parents and carers to help support a whole-school community approach.
Understanding what the four main categories of online risk are, how they can overlap and the important contextual role that technology has to play in each area. Recognising some of the different types of risk that can be associated with each category and exploring how these may manifest online. Identifying ways to try and minimise or mitigate the levels of risk and what tools and techniques to try and keep children safe from harm. Realising the positive aspects that technology and the online world can bring and ensuring there is a balance between limiting access and promoting positive digital citizenship. Recognising how to overcome the challenges associated with the four Cs and technology and identifying the core elements required to help keep children safe online.
: Understanding KCSIE’s Four Cs of Online Risk
What is the introduction of child safety?
Introduction. Child Protection is about protecting children from or against any perceived or real danger or risk to their life, their personhood and childhood. It is about reducing their vulnerability to any kind of harm and protecting them in harmful situations.
What are the rules of personal safety?
The three basic rules for personal safety are: –
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
- Give the impression that you are calm, confident and know where you are going.
- Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t look or feel right, it might not be.