School can be identified as a home for learning. It is a place where young minds go to develop and learn new things. From simple math equations and sentence structure to maneuvering crushes and pimples, students learn a lot about the world around them and develop relationships with others. In and amongst all of these life experiences and tests, however, lie safety concerns and how to be proactive when it comes to school safety. The key is communication.
In the world today, it seems that bullying is becoming more of an issue with youth. If your child is the victim of bullying, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages speaking with school administration to address the problem and think of solutions. The AAP also says to teach your child to look the bully in the eye, remain calm, and know when to walk away. In Canada, bullying has been on the rise as well and impacts students struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity in high levels. The Canadian Safe Schools Network (CSSN) has provided a platform of inclusion on their website with the goal of working together to make schools and communities in Canada safer. The site offers information and even a hotline that can be utilized when nothing else seems to help. All across the world, organizations that advocate for a safe and happy learning environment for adolescents exist and offer resources to improve schools and communities by opening the lines of communication.
In addition to the safety issue involved in bullying, children are at risk immediate and long-lasting health issues when it comes to things like allergies and the weight of a backpack. In Canada, roughly six percent of children are impacted by food allergies, and American statistics show that one in 13 children suffer from food allergies. With so many children at risk for an allergic reaction, it is important to develop an action plan with the children and teachers who should be aware of a potential outbreak. If your child has a peanut allergy, teach them what not to do, what to look for, and how to handle a situation should it occur. You should also inform the teacher that there could potentially be an outbreak and how to handle it if it happens. Just keep the lines of communication open.
Backpacks also pose a risk to children if not carried properly or fitted correctly. They should be worn using both straps. When one strap is slung over a shoulder and the other left hanging, the child is at risk for pulled muscles, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP also points out that the heavy items in the backpack should be packed in the middle and not on the sides. The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) encourages a backpack that fits properly. Make sure the pack fits directly between the shoulders and the lower back and look for one with padding on the back and shoulder straps.
Another thing to consider in regard to safety at school is safe methods of getting to and from school. If the school bus is the chosen mode of transportation in your household, make sure you implement some rules for how to ride the school bus safely. Encourage your child to keep his or her belongings out of the aisles to avoid tripping others, let them know that remaining in their seat for the entire ride is mandatory, and tell them not to raise their voice to keep from distracting the driver. And regardless of whether or not your child takes the bus, participates in a neighborhood carpool, or rides with you, he or she should know that seatbelts are not optional. No matter your choice of getting the little ones to and from school, there are similarities with safety. When entering and exiting a vehicle, a bicycle, or walking to the school, it is important to stop to check the surroundings. Other drivers can get very distracted, and practicing a defensive approach to arriving or departing a school is a good way to go. Stop, look, and listen before walking across the street. If walking or riding a bicycle to school, you and your child should work together to plan a route to and from school. Make it clear to your child that he or she should never stray from this route.
School-aged adolescents are in formative years of education and personality development and should not be faced with unnecessary safety concerns when at school. By educating our children and opening the lines of communication, we are preparing them to handle situations when they arise and to be proactive in their safety efforts. School should be a place to learn and develop relationships with others and should not be viewed in a negative light. Taking these steps will help to ensure that is possible.