Parents, class is back in session in Illinois and Wisconsin, so you’ve likely already reviewed the basic safety tips for kids who walk or bus to and from school.
Those tips, of course, are:
- Walk with a buddy
- Stay in well-lit areas
- Never accept a ride with strangers
- Once home, lock the door and don’t let anyone in
However, Dr. Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, urges you not to overestimate your kids’ safety smarts. Kids under 10, for example, may not grasp the concept of crossing a street safely, she says.
She suggests teaching them: “Stop. Left. Right. Left.” Meaning that children should, “stop at the curb, look left, right, then left again before crossing, and keep looking as they cross.”
Another thing kids need to know, says Borba, is how to ask for help. Have kids practice saying, “I need help,” out loud and instruct them to “find a uniformed employee, a police officer or a woman, preferably with a child,” when they need assistance, she says.
Once home, kids will likely use the Internet, so be sure to discuss digital safety too.
Staying Safe Online
Internet safety advocate Sue Scheff, author of Wit's End and Google Bomb, says that, “we need to put parental controls/security measures on computers and cell phones. Unfortunately, these aren’t guarantees, so having a cyber-smart child is your best defense.”
Teach kids about the dangers of sharing personal information, such as their home address and phone number, online. And about using social media responsibly.
While online, it’s best for kids – and adults – to converse and connect only with people they truly know and trust, to keep their social accounts private and to still be cautious even then. After all, photos and information that go online today will still be there years later, when kids apply for college scholarships and jobs.
Above all, stay involved in your kids’ digital lives. Let them know you’re there for them, always – to talk, not to judge or punish, says Scheff. “Many kids fear having their Internet removed if they tell their parents they are being bullied online,” she says.
So keep the lines of communication open to help keep everyone safe, both in and outside of your home.