Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School Safety Tips

By Deacon Bernard Nojadera

Back to school means new clothes, shoes, school supplies and haircuts. It is also time to review family safety rules. To be effective, these rules for children should be specific to a situation.

Let’s start with getting to school. Here’s what children should know.

Children should walk in pairs, never alone, and wait together at the bus stop.

Shortcuts are a no-no. Parents should walk the route with their children first to show them the safest route to and from school.

Children must check with mom or dad before going anywhere with anyone that was not prearranged and should not accept rides from anyone.

On the bus, the rule is to sit quietly and follow all instructions from the bus driver.

Parents can teach:

That children do not have to be polite when someone asks them to do something that goes against family rules or makes them uncomfortable. If a request makes them uneasy, they should say, NO, get away and tell a trusted adult what happened.

That children are wonderfully made in the image of God and no one has a right to hurt them. This means they do not have the right to hurt anyone else either. If children see bullying, they should let a trusted adult know.

That children should pay attention to the inner voice that is telling them something is wrong. This is God keeping them safe.

That adults do not ask children for help finding lost pets or other items. If that happens, children should say, “I’m sorry I can’t help you” and then move away and tell a trusted adult what happened.

That children can tell you anything and that you won’t get angry when they do tell you things. Explicitly tell children that thinking something is so terrible, they cannot tell you is the signal that they must tell you.

Parents also can:

· Attend a parish safe environment training program if they have not already attended one. These programs tell people how to recognize behavior of people who harm children.

· Undergo a background evaluation if they have not already done so. Participating in safe environment programs shows support for the child safety program of the school/parish.

· Show respect for rules. Parents also should not let other adults teach it is okay to break the rules.

More safety tips can be found at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by clicking here.


Deacon Bernard Nojadera heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

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