(Part 1 of a 2-Part Series)
From the tragic shooting-incident at Sandy Hook to natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, last year was more perilous for American school students than most. But instead of worrying about the potential for your kids to encounter harrowing events this year, take active steps to prepare them to handle any type of emergency they might encounter. In this week’s post, we will focus on safety tips relative to transportation, backpacks and bullying. Next week, we will cover active shooter incidents as well as severe-weather emergencies.
Whether your kids or pups attend elementary, middle school, high school or obedience school at a public or private institution, work with them to make sure they understand how to BE SAFE at school:
Walking to School
- Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available.
- When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
- Before you cross the street, stop and look all ways to see if cars are coming.
- Never dart out in front of a parked car.
- (Young kids and puppies should) practice walking to school with an adult.
Riding a Bicycle to School
- Always wear as helmet.
- Learn the rules of the road.
- Ride on the right side of the road and in a single file.
- Come to a complete stop before crossing the street.
- Don’t ever accept a ride from a stranger. Provide your kids with a code word you will give to anyone who has permission to pick them up during or after school.
Riding the Bus to School
- Stand six feet away from the curb while waiting for the bus.
- Learn the proper way to get on and off of the bus.
- If your child needs to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the side of the road until you are at least 12 feet ahead of the bus.
- Make sure your child can see the bus driver and that the bus driver can see your son or daughter.
- They don’t offer buses for JR’s obedience school classes. Lucky for us his mom and I love to walk.
- Prevent backpack-related injuries by carefully choosing a backpack for your child. It should ergonomic, with features that enhance safety and comfort.
- Don’t overstuff your child’s backpack. It should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight. (For example, a child that weighs 60 pounds should carry a backpack no heavier than 12 pounds.) And make sure your children use both straps when wearing their backpack to evenly distribute the weight.
- I am not a fan of backpacks. They don’t make many that fit over all four of my legs.
- Encourage your child to only use playgrounds that have a soft surface. Avoid playgrounds that have concrete, grass and dirt surfaces.
- Children under the age of four should not use climbing equipment. Older children should also be supervised while climbing.
- Monkey bars are unsafe at any age. Make sure you warn your children to avoid them, as serious injury can occur.
- I’d also advise not to ear the bark under the equipment, although it has a lot of fiber.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines bullying as an aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress, occurs repeatedly over time and involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can have long-term psychological effects, as a study of males in their 20s found that those who had been bullied in school were more depressed and had lower self-esteem than their non-bullied peers
Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting or punching (physical bullying); teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying); intimidation using gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying); unwanted sexual contact (sexual bullying); and sending insulting messages by e-mail or social media sites (cyber-bullying).
Stop it on the spot. The best way to stop bullying is to nip in the bud. Make sure your children understand that bullying is wrong and should never be tolerated. If you develop a close, open relationship with your kids, they should feel safe telling you if they are being bullied. If anyone ever bullies JR, I think I’d bite him.
Next week, we will focus on additional school safety tips including preparing your schoolchildren for the unlikely event of an active-shooting incident or severe weather-related disaster.
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