Tips For After-School Safety

Parents, class is back in session in Chicagoland, so you have likely already reviewed the basic safety tips for children who walk or bus to and from school.

Those tips are:

            Walk with a buddy

            Stay in well-lit areas

            Never accept rides from a stranger

            Once home, lock the door and don’t let anyone in

Dr. Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, urges parents not to overestimate your children’s safety smarts. Children under 10, for example, may not grasp the concept of crossing a street safely, she says.

Dr. Borba suggests teaching them: “Stop – Left – Right – Left” model that means children should “stop at the curb, look left, look right, and look left again before crossing the street.”

Another thing children need to know, she says, is how to ask for help. Have your child practice saying, “I need help,” out loud and instruct them to “find a uniformed employee, a police officer or a woman, preferably with a child,” when they need assistance.

Once your child is home, he or she will most likely use the Internet, so be sure to discuss digital safety too.

Sue Scheff, internet safety advocate and author of Wit’s End and Google Bomb, says that, “we need to put parental controls/security measures on computers and cell phones. Unfortunately, these aren’t guarantees, so having a cyber-smart child is your best defense.”

Teach your children about the dangers of sharing personal information, such as their home address and phone number, online; also using social media responsibly.

When online, it is always best for children –and adults - to converse and connect with only people they truly know and trust, keep their social accounts private and to be cautious even then. Photos and information that are put online today will still be there years later, when your children apply for college scholarships and jobs.

Above all, stay involved in your children’s digital lives. Let them know you are there for them, always – to talk, not to judge or punish, says Scheff. “Many kids fear having their Internet removed if they are tell their parents they are being bullied online.”

Keep the lines of communication open to help keep everyone safe, both in and outside of your home.

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