Back to School Safety Tips for Young Children

In a few days, thousands of young children will be returning to our schools. In order to ensure that children get to-and-from school more safely, we wanted to share with our families a few personal safety rules put forth by the Missing Children’s Network.

  • Ensure your child knows his complete name, address and telephone number. Should your child get lost or need to reach you in an emergency, he/she will need this information in order to obtain help.
  • Your child should always ask for permission before going anywhere. You must always know where your child is, as well as keep him/her informed of your whereabouts. Establish an information/communication centre in the house where every member of the family can leave messages.
  • There is safety in numbers. A child that is accompanied by a friend is less likely to be accosted by an individual with questionable intentions. Check out your child’s friends and get to know their parents and other adult who spend time with your child.
  • Keeping a safe distance. Make sure your child understands that he/she does not have to engage in conversations with adults that approach him/her and to always keep a safe distance of at least three giant steps between himself or herself and someone he doesn’t know or who makes him/her feel uncomfortable.
  • Where to go for help if needed. Teach your child to always stay on the designated route when walking to and from school and identify safe havens along the route where he/she can seek refuge if he/she needs help (Block parent, offices, fast food outlets, telephones where he/she can call 911).
  • Use a secret family password to be used in an emergency situation. The person previously chosen by you should say the password to your child. Choose a password that is known only to you and your child. Your child must always ask for this password before leaving with someone who claims to have been sent in your place.
  • Avoid identifying items with your child’s name clearly visible on them (lunch box, coat, school bag, etc.). A child will respond more readily to a stranger if he/she is addressed by name.
  • Up-to-date emergency contact information. Make sure your child’s school has up-to-date emergency contact information. Ask the school what their procedures are for picking up children so that only those adults that you have authorized can pick up your child.
  • Always carry current identification of your child. Download the Sign4l app on your mobile phone (iOS platform / Android platform) and set a reminder to ensure the information is always up-to-date.
  • Play “What If” scenarios with your children. This technique is a valuable educational tool because it fosters your child’s ability to develop problem-solving skills that will enable him/her to adopt sound safety habits for life. Your child’s autonomy and self-confidence will be enhanced and he/she will be able to make safe decisions where there is no adult present to guide him/her. Find suggestions of scenarios on the Missing Children’s Network website.
  • If your child travels by bus:
    • Accompany him/her to the bus stop and make sure that he/she gets on. Wait for him/her when he/she returns. If this is not possible, find another trusted adult who is already accompanying his/her child.
    • Make sure that you know the route, bus number, name and telephone number of the school bus company, as well as the driver’s name.
    • Review passenger safety rules with him/her.
  • If your child walks or rides his/her bike to school:
    • Make sure that he/she obeys all traffic rules.
    • Establish together the route that he/she will take. Make sure he/she avoids isolated or unlit areas, and identify safe places where he/she can seek help if necessary.
    • Encourage your child to make the trip with at least one friend.
  • Teach your child that he/she can always talk to you. Make your home a place of trust and support that fulfills your child’s needs. Create a trusting and open relationship with your child. Talk to him/her and listen attentively to his/her needs. Remind him/her to never hesitate to confide anything that makes him/her feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

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