Safety FAQs From Parents
Safety FAQs From Parents
Michael Dorn and Sonayia Shepherd (School Safety Analysts) gives expert video advice on: How can I prepare my child to be safe at school?; What should I teach my child about strangers?; At what age should I begin teaching my child about strangers? and more...
What should I teach my child about strangers?
You should teach your child that sometimes, and you have to context this language with what's age appropriate, but sometimes people harm other people, in almost any type of setting. And that when you don't know someone that they're an unknown in terms of danger and they should be alert to any situation where someone they don't know tries to invade their personal space, tries to get too close to them, to create too much proximity, tries to ask them questions about where they live or what things that if you step back they'll make sense but we have to explain that to a child. To explain to your child to be alert to people that approach them and offer them something that seems too good to the child to be true and that may be a variety of things. People that victimize children use different techniques. But basically they should use distance as a way of protecting themselves from people who are an unknown quality to them in terms of safety. For example, if someone approaches in a car and stops and asks a child for directions, tell them very specifically not to approach that vehicle. If they're going to talk to the individual, do so from a distance. If the person tries to get out of the car and approach them, they need to try to call for help and leave that area, might be a general recommendation depending on the circumstance. But to be alert to their surroundings, that's a good trait for them to develop as a child to help them be safe all the way through life, is to be alert to our surroundings and what doesn't seem right, to be aware that a situation seems to be out of the ordinary and bears our attention and a closer look.
At what age should I begin teaching my child about strangers?
You have to look at the emotional and mental development of your child, and by that I mean the maturity level of your child. You don't want to frighten the child too badly, but as they develop the ability to understand, you bring them along, you tell them a little bit more as they get older, talk in a language that your child can understand, and try not to use extreme examples. This is a life skill that you're teaching a child. It's like anything else. It's your child's development because as an adult, they're at risk, even more so in many cases than they are as a child. You want to bring them along as they can understand it, and appropriate to the situations that they face.
What should I do if my child's school is in crisis and on the news?
The first thing you should do if your child's school is affected by a crisis is resist your very strong natural desire to rush to the school. If you rush to the school you are actually endangering your child. You may deny your child emergency medical attention, police assistance, and other forms of public safety assistance. We have seen this time and time again where parents and loved ones rushed to the school to help the child, only to in one case, cause EMTs to carry students seven blocks on stretchers because they couldn't get to their ambulances because parents blocked the way. So, don't rush to the school. Try to stay off your cellular phone, you can be part of the problem there clogging networks that may be needed by school and public safety officials. Tune into your school's TV channel if they have one, tune into local news, check the school system website. Generally speaking, if it's a major crisis you'll be directed to pick up your child at a site away from the school and you don't want to lose the opportunity to see your child because you're stuck in traffic near the school. So, as hard as it is to do, the best thing sometimes is to wait until you get further instruction. and I know as a parent how hard that can be but it is the best thing you can do to protect your child. Rushing to your child's school is a very dangerous thing for them and other children there.
What should I do if I suspect my child is troubled and potentially violent?
If you're concerned about your child's safety from their own standpoint, if they may be indicating that they have some emotional difficulty, or maybe you see that they're possibly involved with a gang or a group of children that's not safe to be involved with, one of the things is to talk to them. Try to find out more about the situation and get a more accurate assessment. Then, go to your child's school and seek assistance. That assistance may be talking to a school resource officer, for example, if you think your child might be involved with a gang. Maybe even talking to an administrator, maybe a school medical health professional. If your school or school system doesn't have those type of resources, try to find out through the school what resources are available in the community. There may be community mental health resources for example, that you can be referred to, to make contact with and then get their assistance in helping you with your child.
How can parent volunteers help with school safety?
Many school systems utilize parent volunteers for traffic direction and control. It's very important from a safety standpoint. We see many schools that don't have enough staff. I've seen schools have two or three parents in the afternoon, with vests on, to help with managing traffic, providing increased supervision of children at the end of the day, and at the beginning of the day, at bus stops, and at playgrounds. Most often we see parent volunteers serving in a capacity, just to help, say, the front office with staffing. This can be very helpful to give the office staff resources to run the school better, which will improve the core safety. Another way we see parents as an invaluable resource is serving as volunteers on a safety committee, giving their input, giving their suggestions, and giving their time to help make their child's school safer.