With schools across the country opening for the 2020 academic year this coming Wednesday, there is excitement among learners who look forward to new friends and new experiences. But parents and caregivers might feel some dread, especially those who are worried about the safety of their children while they make their way to school and back.
“There are basic tips that we believe parents can follow, to make a difference in the safety of their children and to give everyone peace of mind. It boils down to making sure your children know exactly how to avoid possible danger, and also what they must do in case something bad happens to them,” says Charnel Hattingh, Fidelity ADT’s national marketing and communications manager.
- Children must always walk to or from school with a friend or friends. If your child walks alone, it’s a good idea to ask a teacher or other parents if they know of other children from the area who do the same. Some towns have started “walking buses”, where local parents volunteer to walk to and from school with a group of school children to assure their safety.
- Stick to streets you know and never take short cuts through unfamiliar or quiet areas.
- If you get picked up at school, always wait inside the grounds for your lift to arrive; do not leave the premises to go and look for them in the street.
- Remember, your parents would never send someone you don’t know to fetch you. Never get into a stranger’s car even if they claim that someone you love is hurt and that they are supposed to pick you up. It is a good idea to consider using a password system, to ensure that the person collecting you is in fact a friend of your parents or someone you can trust.
- If a stranger approaches you, do not talk to them no matter how friendly they may seem. If someone tries to grab you, fight, kick and scream that they are not your mom or dad.
In some cases children have to see themselves to and from school and keep occupied until mom and dad return home in the evening.
“It is extremely important that children know not to let anyone into the house without your permission. If you are going to be late, let your children know as soon as possible and give them an idea of when they can expect you to be home,” says Hattingh.
She suggested drawing up a list of important telephone numbers.
“This list must include emergency services and mom and dad’s work and cellphone numbers. Save it on your child’s cellphone, and stick it on or near the landline. It’s also important to explain to them when these should be used,” she said.
Hattingh added that everyone in the household should also know how to use your home security system – children included – and when and how to use the panic buttons. She adds that her company has employed special trainers across the country, to offer personal safety training classes at schools.