The first few days of your child’s new school year are filled with excitement and enthusiasm. Summer’s over and the thrill of classroom learning has returned. Yet how do you share your concern for your child’s safety without dampening her enthusiasm?
Create hypothetical situations then ask your child, “What would you do in that situation?” This approach doesn’t put your child in the discussion’s center but affords him the opportunity to evaluate a possible scenario.
Canada’s RCMP “Street Proofing” Safety Tips
Frequent discussion and a preventive approach will reduce parents’ anxiety, decrease the likelihood of a physical attack and heighten your child’s general safety awareness without creating paranoia.
You need to set the tone and offer direction. With a positive attitude and solutions in hand, your child will follow your lead.
Remind your child about the beauty of the area and encourage her to observe everything during the walk. If it’s a bus route, the same principles apply…be observant, don’t get so caught up in conversations with friends that you tune out the environment.
If your child waits for a bus, suggest he stand with a wall or tree to his back so no one can approach from behind and not to engage in conversations with others bent on creating a disturbance or harassing your child or others.
Your child should be the first or last on, not the part of the pack in the middle which increases the chance of pushing/shoving and other physical encounters. Sitting in the front half of the bus eliminates being part of the pack in the back which can be rowdy and cause anguish for non-participants. Your child needs to remember that proximity to a disturbance can create as much of a problem as if she were right in the middle of the foray.
It should go without saying that children do not talk to strangers but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate that policy. Potential assailants, like predatory animals, seek the loner and the weak, consequently children should commute to and from school in peer groups.
A ruse used too frequently by assailants to disarm a child is to ask for help in finding a lost dog or child. Some antagonists have used photographs of “a lost child or dog” and successfully enticed children away from groups. Pedophiles often approach a child telling her that they are a family friend and “Mommy has been hurt in an accident.” Have a family code which can be as simple as “Hot Dog” or as complex as you desire, but it prepares a child to require that code before leaving with a stranger. Make sure you update your child’s school contact list every year so if there is an emergency the school is in your safety loop. If your child isn’t going to be at school on a particular day, call before the start of classes to inform the office.
By walking the school route ahead of time, your child can devise alternative routes should trouble develop. Make her aware of Block Parent homes. Encourage her to walk with her head held high and look people in the eye rather than downcast. The message that comes through is, “I know where I am. I am aware of your presence and you can not surprise me.”
The aura is assertive, not submissive and experience has shown that the nuance makes all the difference in who is chosen as a victim.
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