Fall has arrived! Summer has come and gone, and while adults are looking
forward to milder weather, children are perhaps dreading the return to
school. While it might be normal to mourn the passing of summer, some
children dread school because it is an unsafe place for them. In 2011,
1 in 5 kids were bullied, and 50% of those children did not report it
to their parents.
Even for children looking forward to school, they have to learn to be cautious
and responsible as they become independent. Since 80% of stranger abductions
occur within a quarter mile of home, teaching your older children effective
safety protocol is crucial.
What to Teach Your Child
There are a few basic things you should teach your child if they spend
any part of their day apart from you. The first thing you should do is
they memorize their address and numbers for people who take care of them throughout the day (especially yours!).
Another thing you must teach them is to find a police officer or adult
in charge if they are ever lost and alone. While “stranger danger”
is a popular concept taught by parents, it tends to create
anxious children rather than cautious, independent ones.
It is far better to teach your child how to regard strangers with polite
caution. Also teach them that speaking with strangers is perfectly fine
in an emergency. While they should never allow themselves to be alone
with strangers, asking for help is necessary—teach them that most
people are trustworthy, but it is always better to be cautious rather
than overly trusting. Above all, teach your child this one rule—it is always okay to walk away if they are uncomfortable.
What You Can Do
For children who don’t have cell phones, consider buying them emergency
phones with built-in contacts. This way, they always have a direct line
to you, and phones of this nature can be programmed for limited use. Also,
make a routine of asking children about their day. Asking open-ended questions
will allow parents to know when a day is unusual or if their child is
troubled. Whether they are being bullied or were approached by a stranger
on the way home, the best way to know their lives is to ask your children
about their day.
Another important tip is to get to know your children’s teachers.
In the event of an emergency, the parents who have established channels
of communication will always be reached first. Not only that, but by teaming
with your child’s teacher, you can ensure that your child is being
supported consistently at home and at school.
As children grow, they will face greater risks as a result of greater freedom.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t teach them to handle
those risks with responsibility, caution, and confidence. Teach your children
when they are young how to take care of themselves, and it will grow them
into independent, confident young men and women.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.