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How to keep your child safe walking to and from school

Summer is almost over for our kids.  The carefree days of jumping into the pool, wearing sandals and staying up late with the neighborhood kids is coming to a close.

Now our attention will be on getting our kids ready for school; new lunch pails, new backpacks, new clothes.  But, that isn’t the only thing on our minds.

The first day of school is also about getting our kids to and from school, and there is not a parent among us that doesn’t rethink their child’s safety while they are walking to and from school.

For many children, there are no options, but to walk and in some cases, the route is not the safest.

There may be a busy intersection, retails stores to pass, or a long and lonely tree-lined path.  Let alone, the dangers they may pass as they walk, like older children that will taunt your child,  busy traffic,  dogs, and even adults they pray on children.

So, what can you to do to help your child be safe?  Here are some tips that will help.

Let your teacher and teacher aids and even principal know that your child will be walking to and from school.  If they see anything out of the ordinary, like your child talking to an adult stranger, they will know that it does not fit your child’s circumstances.

Ask what the school rules are if your child does not show up for school.  See if they will call you if your child does not show up. 

Go over the rules for walking.  If they walked last year, go over the rules again.  Remind them to not dawdle, to never accept a ride, even if the person says you told them to be picked up, and never to stop at a friends house on the way.  Some family’s create safe words. If the adult does not know the safe word, then the child knows to run.

Talk to other parents that have children that walk the same route and tell them your child is walking home from school and ask if they can use their house as a safe haven, in emergencies. 

Create a buddy system for your child, by talking to other parents that have children walking and have them go in a group.

Consider a walkie-talkie.  Some can reach up to a 3-mile radius, and it can be turned on on the walk to and school and then turned off when the child gets there.

Make sure your child knows their address and phone number including the area code.  Do they know how to call the police?

Does your child know what back-up lights mean on a car.  Many times a car will back out in a drive way and not  see a child walking behind them on the sidewalk.  Teach your child about the back up lights on a car.

Walk the route with your child before the first day of school.  It will also give you a chance to look for dangers you may have not thought of and to help your child choose the most direct route.

Remind your child to not take short cuts, because how are you going to know where they are.  Remind them to not cross the street between parked cars, or go against the light or jaywalk.

Go over what to do if they are approached by a stranger, and explain what a stranger is.  Also, remind your child to not approach a car that pulls up alongside them, even if they are asking for directions or needing help to find their lost dog.

These ideas will help your child be safe while walking to and from school, and should also help ease your worries.

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