As autumn approaches, families begin preparing for another school year. There are numerous tasks- buying schools supplies, sorting out the logistics of getting back and forth to school, before and after school programs, and much more!
One general concern is safety and there are many issues. One of them is walking back and forth to school. Traffic safety is often paramount and abductions – though a very rare occurrence – crosses our minds.
Following some basic guidelines can go a long way toward promoting your child’s safety. Here are 7 tips for safely walking back and forth to school.
1. Walk facing traffic. Kids and teens can better see oncoming traffic. It is also more difficult for someone to follow them in a car (a driver would have to continually turn their car around to pass them).
2. Travel Lightly. Some kids seem to load up their backpacks to full capacity, forcing them to walk hunched over to the school. This places unnecessary strain on their bodies and impedes their ability to run. Carry less.
3. Don’t count on drivers to obey traffic laws.
Many drivers are distracted, entitled, and/or impatient. Some are blatantly careless and reckless. For some, “Amber” means speed up, others ignore “right of way”. Children and adults should know that a walk sign doesn’t guarantee a safe crossing. Obey the traffic signs but also make sure drivers are doing the same.
4. Stranger in cars. Don’t approach!
You can politely offer directions from a distance. Don’t approach to take a close look at a map or cell phone. They can get more details from an adult! Besides most drivers now have a GPS or Google Maps.
5. Discourage distractions. Easier said than done! It is tough enough to pry adult eyes from their phones. More kids and teens have cell phones and walk with eyes fixated on their screens and ears covered with earphones. Establish limited use parameters. I know a call for limited screen time can be interpreted as a declaration of war but stand firm!
6. Habitual Notifications. Most schools are quite vigilant about immediately reporting if a child is late for school. After school, if they arrive alone, have them text you a quick “Home safe.” Of course, have them call or text of any delays or problems. p.s. I know I was kind of “dissing” cell phones but they have practical benefits.
7. Walk in Pairs or Groups. Pairs and groups are more visible to drivers and less likely to be approached by a predator who prefer isolated targets.
We don’t want to scare our kids but we do want them to be safe. Encourage them to develop some basic safety habits.