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Safety and the Single Girl
Living on your own can seem scary sometimes. ( Read More... )
After-School Safety - Latch Key Kids
Smart parents know to do their homework today when it comes to home safety and security during the school year, especially if kids are coming home to an empty house. ( Read More... )
Protect Your Home While You're Away
No home security system is 100% accurate. ( Read More... )
Tips to Avoid Abduction
CNN and other news sources have focused on a number of cases involving young girls missing and found dead. ( Read More... )
Back to School Safety Tips
TRAVEL TO/FROM SCHOOL
There is no "right" age for kids to start walking or biking to school alone or
with a friend. Each family needs to consider the maturity of their child, how
many busy streets have to be crossed, if these streets have lights or crossing
Here are Stuber's top safety suggestions for parents:
1. Research Route to School: Parents and kids together need to map out what
route to take to school, and any alternate routes. In addition to feeling
comfortable with the busy streets, etc., it's very important that parents know
who lives along the child's path. Megan's Law requires that any person jailed
for a sexual offense and then released be "registered" in the neighborhood where
they live. This is public record and parents should utilize it by visiting the
police station and researching the route to school.
2. Encourage Responsibility: Yes, adults in cars should always be on the lookout
for kids in the street, especially in a school zone, but we all know this often
doesn't happen. Kids should not expect cars to look out for them; they need to
take responsibility and protect themselves. Don't allow your child to walk to
school wearing headphones or playing a Gameboy because this will make him
oblivious to his surroundings.
3. Watch Child Reach Safety: If you drive your child to school, don't take off
the moment she steps out of the car. Make sure she gets inside, or at least to
the front lawn/sidewalk where she's with other students and teachers. Don't feel
pressure to pull away just because cars are piling up behind you - this is
important. Many kids disappear between Mom's car and the school. Also, the
congestion of many cars and buses can be dangerous.
4. Advocate for Safety Changes: Parents often don't realize how much power they
have to change things within a school. If you think your child's bus should have
a crossing gate, or your school needs a call-back system (the administration
calls if your child does not arrive at school), then gather other parents
together and complain. Don't wait for these changes to be instituted as the
result of a tragedy. Stuber says administrations are very open to listening and
responding to parents. They don't want to be blamed for an accident, and they
know that they're funded by the parents' tax dollars.
Another big safety concern for parents is how to protect "latchkey" kids who are
home alone after school. This area especially, Stuber says, is one in which
experts love to offer advice. The favorite rule uttered by parents and experts
alike is: Don't let a stranger inside the house. It's a good rule, but
"Stranger is a terrible word," Stuber explains. "Kids expect strangers to be
scary, and they're not."
As part of his work, Stuber has met with parents who swear their children would
never let a stranger inside. Wearing a hidden camera, he then knocks on a door
while parents watch from a van down the street. He tells the child his cat has
run into the backyard and asks to come in to retrieve the cat. The lie works
There are really only two rules parents need to give their latchkey kid:
1. Keep Doors Shut: Instead of telling kids not to let a stranger in, the real
rule needs to be: Keep the door shut and locked at all times. Don't fill your
child's head with "don'ts"; simply tell them to keep all doors closed. If
someone comes to the door, your child can communicate with this person through
2. Set Check-In Time: Another thing parents should ask their child to do is call
and let Mom or Dad know that she is home safe. Set a consistent time for the
child to call each day. Give her 10 minutes plus or minus to allow for a slow
bus, etc ... then start to worry if she doesn't meet this deadline. Also, find a
close neighbor who is usually home around this time. If the parent can't be
reached, the child knows to call this person.
Parents need to remember that kids who are home alone are much more likely to
encounter dangers such as fire from burning popcorn or falling down the stairs
than being abducted by a stranger. Parents need to consider some of these issues
facing their families and deal with them accordingly.
DEALING WITH A BULLY
Sometimes, the idea of a bully seems more like a sitcom plot than a reality.
However, bullies are one of the big things parents continue to worry about when
sending their child to school.
"Bullies make the child feel terrible and make the whole family miserable," says
Stuber. "This can't be a wait-and-see issue; parents need to be aggressive on
Kids don't usually admit they are being abused at school. Parents must make it
clear to kids how essential it is to share this information. When parents
discover their child is the victim of a bully, Stuber has three steps for them
1. Visit School in Person: Talk to the principal or counselor. Explain the
situation and give them a chance to deal with the problem. You MUST go in person
to show the school how serious you are about the bullying and make sure you have
the administrator's full attention.
2. Request Meeting with Parents: If the school doesn't stop the behavior, ask to
meet at the school with the bully's parents. Make them aware of what's going on
and ask them to deal with it immediately.
3. Get Police Involved: Finally, if you have seen no changes, go to the police.
This step rarely has to be taken, but it can be effective if necessary. Going to
the police doesn't mean you want to have the child arrested; think of the police
as another mediator, one the bully's parents may be more likely to respond to.
Sit down with the police, explain the steps you've taken to stop the bullying,
and ask for advice. They may have information you didn't know before such as,
this boy has been a problem in the past. You can then go back to the bully's
parents, tell them you've spoken with the police and threaten to officially
lodge a complaint if the bully's behavior doesn't stop