Back to School Season is Upon Us!
With all the excitement of shopping for backpacks and school supplies, many families will be busy trying to pack in those last-minute summer activities and end of summer vacations before their children return to school. In the weeks leading up to the new academic year, it is also important to spend some time with your children to help them plan for their safety. Even the most basic of safety skills may help children stay safer every day.
Being alert to potential hazards and practicing responsible safety measures begins at the start of the day, when travelling to school. Whether riding the school bus, carpooling, walking, or biking to school, the Minnesota Safety Council has a listing of transportation safety measure for students and parents alike at: https://www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org/facts/factsheet.cfm?qs=207EFBC76C7CF7BFB12DE5A69D97BECE.
Of course, preparing for student safety reaches far beyond travelling to and from school.Despite widespread efforts, bullying is still present in most every school across the county - in large cities, small towns, and rural areas.No single factor puts a child at risk of being bullied.However, in a general sense, children who are perceived as “different” from their peers are at a greater risk of being bullied.Things such having a disability, living in a low-income household, identifying as LGBTQ, or being overweight may socially isolate children or put children at an increased risk for bullying.
Parents, children, school staff, and communities should have regular conversations centered around the prevention of bullying, intervening when bullying has occurred, and providing resources for victims after bullying has occurred.Parents and students alike should be aware of bullying resources and responses at their local school. Feel free to ask school administration if you are unfamiliar with bullying procedures and responses.You may also go online to find a variety of bullying information and resources are available at: https://www.stopbullying.gov/.
In addition, parents and children everywhere should have regular discussions about “cyberbullying”, another common type of peer bullying which takes place over digital devices such as cell phones, computers, and tablets via text messages, apps, social media, or online forums. Cyberbullying can be incredibly detrimental to the health and well-being of a child, as the sharing of negative, false, harassing, illegal or harmful content online can be humiliating, stressful, or even life threatening to the victim.Talk to your child about cyberbullying and look for the warning signs of cyberbullying at: https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/prevention/index.html. You may also visit https://www.parents.com/kids/safety/internet/best-apps-prevent-cyberbullying/ for a list of mobile apps and web-based products for parents which will help to prevent cyberbullying and keep children safer. Remember, with the use of electronic devices at an all-time high for children of all ages, it is never too early to take precautions.
With adequate safety preparedness, children will be better equipped to head back to school and handle the day-to-day situations they may encounter. If you or your children have safety concerns or are being bullied, please contact your local school, law enforcement, or Someplace Safe Advocacy Office at 1.800.974.3359. Visit us online at https://www.someplacesafe.info/.
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