As summer draws to a close and kids are choosing new backpacks, pens and pencils for the upcoming school year, it is a great time to remind ourselves how to keep our children safe. This fall, Lauren’s Kids Safer, Smarter Kids abuse prevention curriculum will be in nearly 11,000 public-school kindergarten classrooms across the state. Though we’re proud to be arming kindergarteners with tools they need to avoid victimization without dealing explicitly with the idea of sexual abuse, it is important to reinforce safety at home.
Whether your child is in K-5 or middle school, we know how busy back-to-school season can be. With that in mind, Lauren’s Kids has a few suggestions to help you and your family make a fun, exciting and safe transition into fall!
- Be sure your child knows his or her address, home phone number and area code, your work number and the number of another trusted adult. If your child is very young, laminate a note card with this information to keep in his or her backpack or lunch box.
- If your child walks to school, plan a route together. Choose the most direct way to school or the bus stop with the fewest street crossings, and intersections with crossing guards. Test this route with your child. Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren’t many people around, and ALWAYS make sure they walk home with a buddy!
- Teach children that whether walking, biking, or riding the bus to school, they should always obey all traffic signals, signs, traffic officers and safety patrols. Remind them to be extra careful in the rain and inclement weather.
- When carpooling, drop off and pick up children as close to school as possible and don’t leave until they have entered the schoolyard or building. Make sure your child knows NEVER to accept rides or gifts from strangers. Have a secret code pick-up word that you only share with your child, and the classroom teacher.
- Remember, a stranger is just someone that you or your child doesn’t know very well. Have children practice using their Guiding Voice to help them decide how a situation makes them feel. (Think, Feel, Act!)
- If your child is home alone for a few hours after school, set up rules for locking doors and windows and answering the door or telephone. Make sure he or she checks in with you immediately after school to let you know they arrived safely. Agree on rules for inviting friends over and for going to a friend’s house when no adult is home.
Back-to-school is an exciting time, but can also be overwhelming. Take time to listen carefully to children’s feelings about people or places, especially noticing anything that scares them or makes them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts and take complaints about bullies and other concerns seriously.
As always, if you have concerns about your child’s safety or well-being, you can reach a counselor through the 24-hour Lauren’s Kids Hotline at 1-877-LKIDS-01 (1-877-554-3701).