How to Keep Your Child Safe at School
Even the busiest and exhausted parents have their child’s safety as a top concern when their little ones go to school and spend time away from home. In a transitional phase where parents are fearful and have anxieties of letting their children exercise some autonomy and personal freedom, it’s fair to say that keeping them safe in school is of utmost importance.
Parents can respond to such fears by making sure that they are aware of the school’s activities and being plugged in with other parents, even having open communication with your child’s teachers. You can’t really control what, how and with whom your kids will spend their days. However, you can cultivate and instill confidence in them to share if they feel something wrong is happening.
Here are some tips on how to properly prepare your kids to defend against and avoid unwanted hurdles.
Practice Introduction to Strangers, and Develop Skills to Read People
Parents are usually dismissive about boosting their child’s confidence and protecting them while introducing them to strangers. When you are a parent, you have to carefully decide who you can become friends with and with whom your child may or may not hang out. Make their introduction to strangers a slow process, feeding them details about a particular person. Don’t push them to behave openly with every adult they encounter, but give them their space to decide or like a person for their own reasons. If you notice something that a child does, use that as a teachable moment. Reinforce what’s appropriate behavior.
This is a valuable skill to develop as it teaches a child to recognize if they are in danger with someone. Too many stories are in the news about child abuse. Developing strong people skills and learning how to stand up for yourself is a lesson and trait that any child should have.
Play More with Numbers
Teach your child to memorize emergency telephone numbers and their home address (or a trusted neighbor’s). In case of emergency, your child can recite who to call (you/spouse/grandparents/older siblings/etc), or know a safe address (home or a friend).
The best way to do this is to practice daily. Start off by having them memorize parts of the phone number or address, and once they have it committed to memory, complete the rest.
“What’s mommy’s phone number?” “What’s daddy’s full name?” “What’s your home address?” are questions that a child should know the answers to as soon as possible.
Use Nicknames & a Safe Word
Too much exposure of their identity can become a serious issue, when you’re outside in public areas. Use nicknames more frequently so that they don’t respond if someone calls their actual name.
Sometimes a potential kidnapper will use the nickname, but parents and children should agree to a “safe word”. Only trusted people that the child can go with should only know this safe word. If a person does not, then the child should know to run away screaming for help.
Make it a daily habit to talk about their day. It doesn’t have to be very detailed – just high level and listen for anything that sounds out of the ordinary.
If you will tell them about their day, they will tell you about theirs. This relationship is really important if you want to catch potential concerns early.
Though school officials are working on maximizing the security inside and outside the school premises, there are external forces (flooding, earthquakes, power outages) that simply cannot be controlled. Kids must really be prepared about what to do in such situations. Have play sessions in where you teach them by role playing and provide guidance about how your kid is supposed to handle the situation.
Also, your child should know where most major emergency exits are located in the event that they have to leave the building. Schools have disaster protocols in place, but that shouldn’t stop you from having a back up plan.
Get Together with Other Parents
In the early years of a child’s schooling, most of the parents and kids face the same anxiety, so why not share and learn from other parents and their children. This will also let you learn about other kids in school and if there is something wrong in their behavior that parents can address together.
Take Advantage of Technology
Today, we have kid trackers, GPS monitors, wireless security cameras an even apps to help keep your child safe.
Be sure to download and install Panic SOS Plus for your iOS or Android device. Teach your children how to properly use it. At the press of a button an email and text message is sent to designated recipients, along with latitude/longitude location coordinates.
Check out other features and functionality offered by this app.
Let Them Know That They are Not Alone
Ultimately your child should feel safe and confident that they are not alone. They just have to have the courage to seek and call for help when needed. Make sure they know emergency contacts by heart, and to not be afraid to speak up and stand up for themselves.
This is an ever changing world, and we must adapt and teach our children to be safe in school and in their surroundings.